I think a lot about teaching and continue to want to learn more about effective strategies. My family and I have grown to love the classical method of learning and teaching over the years and have been involved with a group called Classical Conversations. Here, the tutors are not the primary teachers. Through high school, the parents assume this primary role, equipping the students to be more and more independent.
Part of the classical method of teaching is that you “model” what you want the students to learn, but this word needs to be defined. For some, to model is to walk someone through steps. While this is indeed important at times, I believe we need a broader understanding. The reason is that we are one human teaching another human, not one brain instructing another brain. It’s not as if we can attach one computer to another and hit download.
Therefore, when we teach, we must take into account who they are as a person. Character matters. Virtue matters. In other words, teaching should be holistic, and so should modeling.
Many of you know how you felt in a large weed-out college class where the professor was so far away he looked about 12″ tall. He is teaching, yes, but he could not take into account who you were as a person and really help you. You understood that he knows a lot about the subject, but had he even read the textbook he’s teaching from? (No, not all college professors write their own book.)
Parents have a wonderful opportunity. They are the God-ordained teachers in their home. As a Christian parent, aren’t you called to “teach them diligently?” Fathers, aren’t you called to “train” them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord? (cf. Debt 6:7, Eph 6:1-4)
Yes. Teaching has everything to do with character. It’s not just academic. The mind and the heart are intertwined.
I have the opportunity to tutor a group of 12-13 year old kids in our Classical Conversations (CC) group, called Challenge A. One of the books we will be reading is a C.S. Lewis book from the Chronicles of Narnia: Magician’s Nephew.
In class, I hope that when they see me working on what they are working on, it’ll be motivating. I believe it can provide a bit of freedom to invest more in time and effort.
I realize, dads, that you have a job. I realize it’s hard to find time to do this kind of thing. I also realize that some of you just don’t feel like you’re a reader, and you just don’t enjoy it.
Well, maybe your child doesn’t either.
Model the struggle. Talk to them about humility, trust, doing the hard thing, perseverance, and how life requires us to do things we simply don’t want to do (often with a passion!).
I’m reading The Magician’s Nephew for our class because I know conversations about life can flow naturally out of conversations about the story (classic books are like that).
You can read what they’re reading as an opportunity to have safe conversations about big ideas.
If your kids are young, read to them. If they’re reading themselves, read with them. Engage.