Reading: From Christian Education by Bl. Basil Moreau
If, as Saint Paul says, “knowledge without faith makes one proud” and thus becomes dangerous, it is likewise true that faith without knowledge makes a teacher useless and compromises the honor of the teacher’s mission. That is why Daniel, speaking of the reward prepared for those who teach others, does not assume that teachers must be merely “just,” and hence reverent, but also “learned and knowledgeable.” Without knowledgeable teachers, what can be said to families who want their children to acquire all the learning needed to earn a good position in life? “You cannot give what you do not already have.” This axiom applies to teaching as well-it would be useless for a person to try to teach who did not possess the knowledge sufficient to achieve the goals of instruction.
Teachers themselves should definitely have enough knowledge and instruction to be able to deal with questions that are only indirectly connected with the subjects they are presenting and be able to make lessons interesting and complete. In order to succeed in acquiring a superior degree of knowledge, teachers must have a constant desire for self-improvement and lose no opportunity to satisfy this ambition when it is not detrimental to their other duties.
To teach with success, teachers must know good methods, be skillful in applying these methods, have clear ideas, be able to define exactly, and possess language that is easily understood and correct. All of these skills are acquired and perfected only through study. I think we must assume that good teachers are not content simply with obtaining a degree or a credential to show their capabilities, but that they also try to increase their knowledge even further by studying as much as they can. In this way teachers are able to meet the qualifications required of them.
MEDITATION – Dr. Andrew Seeley
According to 19th Century educator, John Milton Gregory, the first law of teaching is: “Know thoroughly and familiarly the lesson you wish to teach — teach from a full mind and a clear understanding….[Be able] readily to explain, prove, illustrate, and apply such knowledge and appreciation of the truth in its deeper significance and wider relations, that by the force of its importance we ACT upon it — our CONDUCT is modified by it.” Many factors, including the growth of standards-directed teaching, have severely diminished the expectations that teachers thoroughly know their subjects. As the questions students asked have been reduced to one – “Is this going to be on the test?” – so teachers are tempted to dismiss the more searching questions that real knowledge demands, and simply ask themselves, “Do I need to know this to meet a standard?” These are not unrelated – the more we expect our students to pepper us with questions, the more our understanding will grow to be able to provide satisfying answers and guidance to further inquiry.
To what extent do I pursue knowledge beyond what is minimally required for my courses? Do I have a lively curiosity about the matters my students are expected to learn? Do I encourage my students to ask questions and seek for answers? Do I feel I need to have all the answers, or am I open to letting my students see I need to learn more myself?
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, your Son is the True Light enlightening every one coming into the world. Obtain for me a thirst for knowledge, time for extra study, humility to learn from any who can teach, and the judgment to see what will most excite a love for learning in my students. May He use me to enlighten His children.
Please also offer one Mass and one Rosary some time this month for the intentions of the members of the Confraternity.