Teachers Over Tech
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Aristotle said that.
Aristotle, the student of Plato, the student of Socrates, which is quite the educational lineage.
But I’ll come back to that in a minute.
I hope we have all had at least one teacher in the course of our lives that truly inspired us. The kind of teacher who encouraged, who occasionally knocked you down a peg, and who recognized that their job was not only to pass on knowledge, but also to teach you how to think for yourself. One who gave you the tools to build your own conclusions and then came back around to point out your weak spots.
Teaching and learning never end and no matter our age we always have a sort of home base with our teachers. Wherever we run intellectually they are there to reign us back in and send us back off better than we were. That is the beauty of education when given proper guidance and the freedom of thought.
You think of Jesus, the perfect teacher, and how he taught his disciples. He taught, they tried, they failed, He corrected, they tried, they asked, He taught, they learned, they failed, they tried again, and so on and so forth. They never stopped learning and then, in time, it was their turn to teach.
Last week The Collaborative’s blog post featured Chad Wellmon’s article Trust Without Teachers. In it he mentions Leonardo Bruni’s approach to teaching and the fact that we expect our teachers to guide us and to have our best interests at heart.
Unfortunately, we do not always see that but when we do we recognize it then often we work harder for it. Passion inspires us even when the subject does not. For example, math has always been my least favorite subject. However, God was gracious to me with my math teachers in middle school and high school. In the nicest sense of the word, these guys were math nerds. They would pause the lesson just to talk about how amazing and satisfying it was that you could plug a number in one place, then watch it roll through a series of steps and turn out something completely logically conclusive. Then they would get genuinely giddy whenever we worked out a complicated equation or understood a formerly foreign concept. Their excitement was infectious and even though I was horrible at math and I trudged where others floated I never dreaded going to class and I wanted to learn.
Good teachers do that. They breathe life into facts and formulas.
We live in a technological age where information is easily accessible and sadly there is an overwhelming sense that just enough is good enough. We have boiled history, politics, literature, culture, etc. down to headlines and Sparknotes. Don’t get me wrong, the Internet as a tool is indispensible but as far as education goes it should be just that, a tool.
Alexander Pope wrote,
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
The Internet is our Pierian spring and everyone has access, which is great. However, without teachers to hold our heads underwater a little longer we’ll never be better than merely little learned.
Wellmon’s article sums up Desiderius Erasmus’s conclusion on teaching by saying, one of the primary responsibilities of a teacher was to decide which texts to read and which texts to ignore.
That approach is all well and good when information and books were scarce and expensive but with the Internet it is impossible for teachers to filter out the inane and incorrect.
Which brings me back to Aristotle.
Now, more than ever, we need teachers teaching truth, value, and discernment in the age of unlimited information and opinion. The mark of an educated mind is one that can read and hear the proverbial haystack of media mush and find the needle of truth.
With the wealth of information at our fingertips, we tend to double-check everything. However, the phrase “over informed and undereducated” comes to mind when we lean too heavily on this as a source of truth. My brother recently had a toothache and walked into the dentist’s office armed with a Google Degree diagnosis only to be (predictably) wrong.
As students we naturally question everything and why shouldn’t we? But the problem is with the overwhelming amount of information we tend to get bogged down in the insignificant and we ask the wrong questions. Teachers help us learn to sift through the menial and get to the meat by teaching us how to ask the right questions and by encouraging us to heed the words of II Corinthians 10:5 by taking every thought captive.