What is Remembered

My dad and I recently traveled to the Philippines to attend a conference where several of his students from Bible College were now serving as pastors and denominational leaders. Everywhere we went, they told stories of “Pastor John” and his radio quartet, choir, music practice.

Dad didn’t go to the Philippines to teach music and direct choirs. He went to teach the Bible and direct a College.

In frustration one night he asked the question that I could tell had been causing him a lot of anguish: “Why don’t they remember my Bible teaching?” (The reverse was implied: “Why is it that all I hear is ‘We remember the music’?”)

What is remembered says a lot about two things:

1. The effectiveness of what was presented, and

2. The response of the person to what was presented.

IGBIPerhaps what dad taught in Theology 101 wasn’t as memorable. This could be the boredom factor of having to go through a systematic study that would, at times, seem tedious and sleep-inducing (Been there; done that.) It could also be a comparative thing: compared to the joy and excitement of singing, traveling around to visit churches and performing on the radio, sitting on a hard wooden seat listening to the 26 reasons why we aren’t Arminian just doesn’t cut it.

Or it could be that the students who were enrolled in the College at the time were far more passionate about and felt connected in singing together than they were about studying Soteriology and proof-texting John Calvin’s 5 Points?

We could look at this example and draw the conclusion that his students should have been more serious about their Bible study and ministerial training and that this should have driven them to enjoy learning and applying themselves to their studies.

But that would be about as fair as expecting the congregation on any given Sunday to leave reciting the main points of the pastor’s sermon rather than singing the memorable chorus of that final song. We are naturally wired to remember things that appeal to all our senses; our minds naturally prioritise that in which we are actively engaged above that which just goes into our ears.

Dad shouldn’t be so hard on himself. He did a great job of teaching, I’m sure. Otherwise the vast majority of his students would not be in the ministry today. I’m sure the essence of their vocation has “Pastor John” written all over it; the music is simply the spoonful of sugar that helped the medicine go down.

(And, in keeping with this theme, the ending pointed question of this post is, “And who doesn’t like sugar?” not “And how bad was that medicine!”)

A Story about Creativity

I received this in an email the other day (Thanks, Clare). It’s actually written in a circular to teachers, but it applies so well to families, churches and other organisations just as much as to schools. The lesson, I believe, is obvious: Unless we allow people the freedom to think, act and create outside of the box (whatever that ‘box’ may be), we will not only impair their own development, but we will do a great disservice to our community and our world.

Red flower

Once upon a time there was a little boy who studied at a big school.

One morning the teacher said “Today we’re going to draw.”

“Good” thought the little boy. He liked to draw lions, tigers, chickens, trains and boats.

He got his coloured pencils and started drawing.

“Wait!! Don’t start yet.” said the teacher.

She waited until all the students were ready and then said, “We’re going to draw flowers.”

The little boy started drawing beautiful flowers with his pink, orange and blue pencils.

“Wait” said the teacher. “I’ll show you how to do it.”

And the flower she drew was red with a green stem.

“OK” said the teacher, “Now you can do it.”

The little boy looked at the flower the teacher had drawn , looked at his own flowers and liked his best. He couldn’t say that so he turned the sheet of paper over and drew a flower just like the one the teacher had drawn–red with a green stem.

Another day the students were having class outside and the teacher said, “Today we are going to play with clay.”

“Great” the boy thought. He liked to play with clay.

He could make things like elephants, mice, cars and trucks.

He started to take some clay in his hands and make a big ball.

Then the teacher said, “Wait ! Don’t start yet.”

She waited until all the students were ready.

“Now” she said “we’re going to make a plate.”

“Good” thought the little boy.

He liked to make plates of different sizes and shapes.

The teacher said, “Wait !! I’ll show you how to do it.”

It was a soup plate.

“OK” she said, “Now you can start.”

The little boy looked at the plate the teacher had made, looked at his own plate and liked his best. He couldn’t say it so he got his plate, made it into a big ball and started it again.

He made a soup-plate just like the one the teacher had made.

And since early in his life he learned not to do things by himself but to wait for a model.

And then the little boy went to another school.

This one was even bigger than the other one.

One day the new teacher said, “Today we’re going to draw.”

“Good” thought the little boy.

He waited to see what the teacher would draw.

The teacher didn’t draw anything.

She only walked around the room.

Then the teacher approached the little boy and asked, “Don’t you like to draw?”

“Yes” he said “but what are we going to draw?”

“I don’t know” said the teacher.  “Draw whatever you want.”

“How can I do it?” he asked.

“Any way you want.” said the teacher.

“But what colours should I use?” he asked.

“You choose. If everybody makes the same drawing with the same colours how can I know which drawing is yours?” she said.

“I don’t know” answered the boy.

And he draw a red flower with a green stem.

Many times we want our children, friends, relatives, people we love, to do things the way we believe is the correct one.

Are we right?

Other times we sit and wait until someone tells us what to do.

Is that right?

(Copied from Leadiong and Learning, http://leading-learning.blogspot.com/)