Real Seeing

Grace in the Process

Grace in the process

A dad is a teacher. He models and instructs. Like it or not (’cause sometimes I don’t), a message is being delivered to his kids. Some ways of thinking in the end keep me from moving forward, however. Whether it’s my supposed perfectionism, man pleasing tendencies, or my personal over-analyzing problem, I run out of gas and stall out…right in front of my kids. This counter-productive thinking does not help. Fear does not help. There’s way more grace in the teaching process than I think.

As a teacher, I know there are hundreds of books on “correct” pedagogical procedures, and how to speak and prepare, etc (ad infinitum). It can be hard for me to filter and more than a little overwhelming. This is why people say, “find the way that works best for you, and do that.” This method seems too subjective and relativistic and is hard for me to accept (though I seem some truth in it). Isn’t there a formula?? Well, that’s just it. Many purported methods make big claims, but they use algorithms and formulas and statistics to create the most effective method. In that case, the student might as well be a robot. So how do you know which is which? Doesn’t this stress you out? Yeah, me too.

But there’s more grace in the process than I think.

So what is grace? It can be understood as “unmerited favor” – something given to an undeserving recipient. What if it could also be understood as “freedom to fail” or “freedom to experiment?” This might seem odd, but the concept of freedom pushes away from its antonyms (about which I have been alluding). It is as if I allow myself to be enslaved to a notion of “correctness” devoid of any real meaning. To be correct is to do what we believe to be right. But it is at this moment that we forget that the concepts of being correct and right don’t just pop out of thin air. The question is why is this thing correct and that thing incorrect? Why is that thing right and the other wrong?

I’ll use education. Why do we educate our kids? Your answer will define and color how you do it. Take the lecture model. Does it educate? Depending on what you mean by education, the answer could be either yes or no…or both! Ultimately, though it’s not just the definition that’s the problem.

What about this? As an educator, is my desire to pontificate or proliferate?

One is selfish, the other selfless.

Teaching should come from a place of rest. This fascinating concept is descriptive of some of the best teachers, and includes the fact that there is grace in the process. It is rest because you know the material, yes, but it is also rest because you can only nurture, not grow a soul. It is rest because you are not anxious about saying the right things at the right time, according to the latest expert. It is rest because you are not overwhelmed by perfect timing or having the best examples. Rest comes from trust, and if your desire is to multiply, your efforts will be in helping students grow. You will watch carefully and help divide their thoughts in a healthy way, as they make connections they have never made before. The result of this desire to proliferate may not be what you expect.

While there may be some rules to follow in a classroom, they should be undergirding rules to help facilitate thinking and good character. As a dad, if you have rules, they should be undergirding rules to help facilitate the same – thinking and good character. A dad is a teacher, but there is grace in the process. Your goal is to help facilitate good thinking and good character, and your path is through your own skills and personality, not through mine.

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