There have been thousands of books written about education, and my own journey isn’t new, but it is as unique as any individual. I have long been interested in both discipleship and education and have been personally discovering something.
Education is discipleship.
I’ve written on this blog about the connection, and with a seminary degree in my background, have also written and thought much about discipleship.
The image above is from the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary where I attended. It’s a picture of Jesus washing Peter’s feet from John 13.
In verses 13-15 Jesus tells them all,
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
Jesus is speaking to His disciples, teaching them to lower themselves in humility and serve and care for the ones they themselves will teach. Jesus confirms and establishes His authority, but not like the kind of “expert” authority we count on today. Truth be told, He is the only real expert who ever lived. He did not use His authority to demand or lord over those whom He addressed.
Interestingly, He did not even begin with words. He began with a knowledge of His purpose and of what He had (see vv. 1-5). He knew who He was as the Son of God, sent from the Father to redeem His own.
At the passover, this was the context in which He simply stood up, took off His outer garments, and wrapped a towel around His waist. Peter (typically the first one to speak), questioned Him: “Lord, do you wash my feet?” (the lowest of activities for a wise Rabbi such as Jesus). Jesus was patient with Peter as they worked it out.
In terms of education, there was a master teacher, but He didn’t lecture. He didn’t invite the best teachers of the Law together for a master class on being a Rabbi. He didn’t hide Himself until it was time to teach, only to retreat to His one-person hovel when the task was complete.
No, He knew these men. He loved these men. They were His students, yes, but not in the way we envision. They were not gathered in a large room with 100 students. They knew His mannerisms, priorities, and passions.
This is a wonderful Scripture for educators. There are certainly more, but here are five applications based on the principles found here in this chapter:
- Start with humility. No, you don’t know it all. Even Jesus, who does know it all, started with humility.
- Know your purpose. Is it merely to pass along some information, or is it much deeper than that?
- Be patient if students question you. It will happen. Our responses speak louder than our brilliant phraseology in perfectly planned thematic contexts.
- Modeling is imperative. Jesus modeled first, then asked, “Do you understand what I have done?” (verse 12) The model-question combo is powerful.
- Remind them that your modeling is for their benefit, that, as Jesus said, “you also should do…” Learning involves doing. They saw, they thought, they did.
This is discipleship. It’s less about passing along information, more about modeling and mentoring. It’s like an apprenticeship relationship. One leads another along in the process of doing. This does involve information, but not primarily.
Think of your kids as little apprentices. They watch, you ask, they do. Be humble and patient in the process.