Monday, September 5, 2011

Questioning and Teachability

Pastor Mark finished his summer series on the Minor Prophets yesterday with a sermon on Malachi. It's funny how America in 2011 isn't all that different from Israel after the exile.

One of the statements he made in the sermon that keeps sticking with me is how Israel (America?) was a nation that questioned and argued everything and had lost their teachable spirit. Wow. I'm a questioner...I want to know why I'm supposed to do something.

But the more I think about it, the more I see that while questioning is not a bad thing (How did you come up with that conclusion? What is the rationale behind this decision?), Americans have refined the art of questioning for the purpose of challenge and argument. I can't even read the comments on news stories anymore, because people have become so nasty. You may think it takes courage and boldness to "say what you think" in an online forum...but really, it's cowardice to sit behind the anonymity of a computer monitor and spout hatred.

This whole concept of questioning for the sake of confrontation and losing a spirit of teachability was illustrated in my classroom on Friday. We have just spent 3 weeks digging deeply into the Star-Spangled Banner...learning history, vocabulary, singing tips, and the value of defending your opinion (e.g. you can say the song is stupid, but I want to know why...) After dealing with 2 weeks' worth of outbursts from a particular student, he managed once again to get the last word and spout off in a disruptive and disrespectful tone. When I spoke to him privately, he didn't seem to see a problem with the way he spoke to me. (I have also been warned that this attitude comes from his parents as well.) I see a classic example of someone who feels he has the right (when it's really a privilege) to free speech and interrupting the instruction of his classmates so he can question, challenge and argue with a teacher. In the process, it is clear that this student does not have a teachable spirit.

As a questioner myself, I ask: do I question to be informed or to start an argument? What is the heart and spirit behind the questions I ask?

What about you?

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