Monday, February 6, 2012

Teaching Obedience

Teaching children to obey is not an easy task. It surely is not a job for the timid! Some children are difficult to train, but they can be taught the importance of obedience, and how it affects our lives. Parents who fail to teach their children respect for authority create problems for us as teachers. Sadly, children who do not learn to obey may never learn to honor and revere the God of heaven.

As Bible class teachers, we are limited in how we can teach children the importance of obedience. Our tools are not the same as those of parents, or anyone who has custody of a child. However, there are ways we can teach about submission. The lessons we present about the consequences for disobedient Bible characters, and the blessings given the obedient are of utmost importance. The value of making lesson applications cannot be overstated. It is so easy for time to get away from us, so that this part of the lesson is overlooked.

Class management is made easier by plenty of preparation. Presentations that are boring, not age appropriate or too slow moving will surely result in less cooperation. However, some children are simply out of control. Should a child become un-controllably mean, violent and disobedient, he may have to be removed from the classroom for the sake of all the other pupils. But one must be careful to analyze the kind of behavior that a child is manifesting. A teacher can do an injustice to a child who lacks self-control, yet who is not mean spirited. We must always conduct ourselves in a loving, though firm way. Condescending words never gain the respect of your students. Nor does it help a pupil to behave.

When beginning a class, some use the word “Hook” to describe grabbing the interest of students. This might be done during the Pre-session, or Lesson Introduction. A creative visual aid or interesting puzzle may be appropriate, depending upon the age of the students. The younger the class the more visuals are needed. However, it cannot be overstated that visual aids must not overpower the lesson. Our classes ought to be memorable, but the foremost goal is to have the lesson remembered, rather than a clever visual. Activities and visual aids must be age appropriate. Using a visual designed for a cradle roll class will leave something to be desired by a junior or teen class. Consider yourself a visual aid. Your students will observe whether you have an honest heart that loves the Holy Scriptures and them.

Love goes a long way in both tolerating less than ideal behavior, and working towards improvement. It also helps a teacher not to take a child’s behavior too personal. To feel rejected by a child can create an unhealthy reaction in a teacher. Sometimes we just have to do the best we can in searching for ways that work with a particular student. Some children simply have more difficulty being quiet or still for an hour. This is why it is crucial to try to analyze each child’s learning style. This cannot be done in a few days, but over weeks. Seek to find what works!

Becoming a treasured and remembered teacher is produced not only during the class period, but in every interaction you exchange with each child. Youngsters may recall the sincere affection and respect we have displayed toward them. We must overlook some childish ways. Pleasant memories, even times of admonishing, can help those young souls on the journey toward heaven. When we do have to discipline, we must remember to treat these kids with as much respect as we do a wayward adult (cf. Gal. 6:1).

James warned, “Be not many of you teachers.” The actual meaning is “Stop teaching!” It would be better to not teach than to hinder the spiritual growth of these children by lazy preparation or a snarling disposition. May the Lord help us as we treasure and teach the souls of these young people.

See: Wayne Jackson, Christian Courier on the Web