Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 15, 1959

Some Thoughts About Teaching

Warren Rainwater, Pensacola, Florida

It is apparent today that many who claim to be teachers of the Bible fall short in knowledge of the Word and in the best ways to teach. A constant program ought to be carried on to help train and develop Christians in the art of teaching. Many times the success or failure of a congregation to carry out it's duties and responsibilities can be traced to the failure of teachers to instruct their students properly. Sometimes, no doubt, a person is doing the very best he can under the circumstances but because of a lack of knowledge on his part the class is fed inadequately. Sometimes a class is forced upon a person because of certain conditions and he is not qualified to instruct, at least the age group assigned, but in order to assist in everything possible he takes the class. The result in most cases like that is disaster. The crying need for more and better teachers can only be met with a good program of teacher training. There are many things that go together to make a person a good teacher and I want to list a few ideas that will help in self improvement.


It is impossible to be a good teacher without ample preparation. It is necessary to know thoroughly the facts and be familiar with them enough to use them rightly in the course of study. A clear understanding of the material is absolutely essential in order to have a good presentation. The failure to knoww hat is the theme to be taught and how to handle the lesson, will result in the teacher being unsure of self and this will be seen by the student at once. A teacher that is unprepared will lose the confidence of the student and thereby lose his interest. This will generally lead to absenteeism. This in turn will frustrate the teacher and things go from bad to worse simply because the teacher didn't prepare the lesson in the beginning! Many hours must be spent in study.


This part of teaching has to do with 'getting your idea across" to the student. This rests in the hands of the teacher. He must know the mental advancement of the class in order to ascertain the level of phraseology to employ. The terms used must be those understood by the student. He must be able to understand the lesson from his "usable language". All examples used must be translated into thoughts and ideas already fixed in the mind of the student or explained in such fashion as to allow him to grasp the meaning desired. By all means th esmart teacher will use a common language. In other words, the words must be used in such a way as to have a common meaning for teacher as well as student. The teacher must "come down" to the level of the student. It must be kept in mind where there is no communication, there is no teaching.


Attention must be given to explanation. The Master teacher used the known to explain the unknown. No better way can be found today than that mehod. The Lord used known principles and put them into parables that explained the unknown. This method has long been recognized by great teachers of the day as the most effective way of explanation- By noticing a known principle, we can deduct unknown principles into known facts that are usuable. The Lord used this method of explaining the kingdom of God to the disciples most effectively. A definition of terms is essential to a proper explanation. The student's ability to grasp the truths of the lesson depends on a proper explanation.


In this phrase of instruction, attention must be placed on arranging the study in such a way that the student can anicipate the conclusion and think ahead of the instructor. By so doing, he learns the power of making discoveries. His mind is acuated with the knowledge of self improvement. If the lesson is presented in such a way that the student must wait for an explanation in order to reach the desired conclusion, the mind is not filled with the keen desire to explore but must accept a dry fact from the instructor which in turn will many times kill the desire to effect self-improvement. Having the ability to properly adapt the teaching process to the needs of the student is an attribute that comes by carefully studying the mental ability of the one being taught plus an abundance of personal training.


Even though much study has been made and the very best methods used in presentation, it still remains that the best way to find out how much the student has received from the class is to have some form of recitation. The student needs to reproduce the thoughts in his own words in order to impress them in his memory so as to be able to retain them. A clear knowledge can be had in picture of what has been absorbed from the instruction. The idea of tests, given orally or written, is based upon the need to evaluate the progress of the student. It is hardly possible to place too much emphasis upon recitation.


Last but certainly not least in this study is the idea of application. If the student can't find some way to apply the thoughts and facts to something tangible, it is hard to get them to comprehend the full meaning of the lesson. In making the fullest use of application, it is essential to employ the means of review. Review, review, and then some more will help to cement the thoughts in the mind more than anything. Also, the teacher will find it possible to enlarge upon the subjects by using other thoughts and different applications. This also will help to bring out into the open any false view that might have come into the mind of the student. After the premises have been laid down properly, the resolutions are inevitable. By application, it is possible to see if the student has grasped the full meaning of the lesson. If the student is unable to properly apply the facts taught, then the teaching has been in vain, generally speaking.

There are certainly other things that could be said that would help a person be a better teacher of the Word of God, but I have tried to notice briefly some of the most important ones. Certainly I know that these ideas are not original with me but anybody can learn them by doing some studying. I am trying to stimulate more study by those that teach the Will of God. You can be a better teacher if you want to. It is largely up to you.