Monday, December 05, 2016

Adding Insight To Injury

Lizette is new to WCS this year and already one of my favorite students. An eighth grader, she is one of those kind of youngsters who is here for a month and you would guess years by the way she has already become a part of the school community. She's a good student in my Bible classes, not always the case when kids come in from non-church school backgrounds. Transitions are difficult at that age, or most ages, and Lizette has handled hers flawlessly.

But Lizette had some tough luck last month. She broke her finger on her right and dominant hand. She has a cast covered with classmates' signatures but it also happens to be her writing hand and we write a bunch in Bible 8. She has recited her memory verses to me for grades instead of using paper and her friends have taken notes for her. Last Friday, we took an essay test over three questions. Lizette had an appointment and missed our 8th period, end of the day class. Today, she came in during SACT, our tutoring and meeting time, and took the test the only way she could. Since it was a discussion test, we discussed it, which only seems logical. Here are condensed versions of the three questions.
# 1 Sin messed up a perfect world. What would you consider to be a perfect world physically, socially, and spiritually?
# 2 What kind of coach do you think Jesus would be?

# 3 What would a school discipline system set up by God be like?
Lizette and I talked for fifteen minutes. I would guess if she had used pen and paper, it would have taken maybe ninety minutes to write down the thoughts that she shared this morning. I was able to direct the conversation and ask follow up questions to her replies, guiding her responses in directions she would not have considered. I found her answers to be thoughtful and very mature for someone of her age. She made points which had not crossed my mind and made me think. And being environmentally responsible, we saved several sheets of paper!

As you might guess, Lizette earned a very high A on her test today. No surprise there- it was obvious her train of thought was intelligent and reasoned. What was a surprise was how much I enjoyed the process. With close to ninety students, it's impossible to sit down and test in a one on one setting. I found out how much more I learned about Lizette's points of view than if she had simply employed penmanship to express her opinions. In these types of exercises, I stress there are no right and wrong answers, simply thinking and effort. Unfortunately, most of us don't like to write and written answers often don't convey a student's depth of thought. And I have kids who have good ideas but would rather make a poor grade than take the necessary time to commit those 
brain waves to parchment. In an age of tweets and texts, what passes for communication in culture is shallow at best. Two of Jesus' best teaching moments, in my opinion, were face to face encounters with an unnamed woman and a very named Pharisee who visited at night. True, He taught large crowds but He took time for the individual seeker as well. In 1 Peter 3:15, John's co-worker teaches this:
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
My guess it is much more likely we will converse with another about Jesus vocally than in a note or by-email. Talking is open ended, hard to walk away from, and can get messy. But it's the best way to influence someone in the way Peter references. I try to talk to all of my students in class every day but it's hard to get past the surface in a group setting. It's amazing what you can learn from kids when they tell you what they know instead of write you what they know. I'm just sorry it took Lizette's broken finger for me to see the light.

Applicable quote of the day:

"I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete."
Apostle John- 2 John 12

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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