Christian Education and Confronting Boredom
A number of years ago, I spent a week of my Bible class asking my students this question: “Would you describe your Christian life as exciting?” Out of roughly 150 students, I had only one student answer “yes.” She was a missionary kid from Africa there on furlough for one semester.
I understand that just because students may not say their Christian lives are exciting, it may not necessarily imply a spiritual boredom. And I also realize it may be a little unfair to think that students are living boring Christian lives simply because they can’t think of something worthy of being called exciting at the moment. “Boring” and “exciting” may just be subjective labels. What one student might consider an adrenaline rush another might see as a stroll through the park.
However, the fact remains that when asked the question, their answers and the dialogue that followed showed signs of boredom. And I’m not sure what to do with it. What is my role as a teacher in helping my students be excited about Christianity?
“What is my role as a teacher in helping my students be excited about Christianity?”
While I know that it doesn’t rest entirely on my shoulders, the truth is very few people talk to my students about spiritual matters for 5 hours a week like I am able to do. So if a large majority of my students imply a strong sense of boredom concerning their spirituality, I feel I should give it some thought.
For years I have confused excitement with entertainment. It’s easy enough to see if students are entertained in class, and even more painfully obvious when they’re not. So, like many teachers, I learned how to play to the crowd. I can make my students feel entertained and I became conditioned to feel good about myself when students would leave the room like leaving the theater after a great movie. I also know too well the feeling of failure when I see my students disengage halfway through a class.
Having noticed these results on a weekly basis over the years, I’ve learned a few things:
First, it’s exhausting for an educator to play the role of entertainer. When it’s the last class of the day and the quality of your lesson rests on how well you can perform, it can be hard to teach well.
Second, it’s entirely possible to entertain students for an entire hour and yet teach them nothing of value. Just try watching an hour of tv tonight. Entertained? Yes. Edified? Probably not.
Finally, when I am the entertainer, it can very easily become me on center stage in the spotlight instead of my subject matter. And when the subject matter is quite literally the great I AM, I’m not sure what excuse I could ever give for standing in his way.
“When I am the entertainer, it can very easily become me on center stage in the spotlight instead of my subject matter.”
In the end, it wouldn’t even matter how well I learned to stand in the spotlight because it would still be me in the spotlight. And even if I was able to entertain, or perhaps inspire students with my story, it would still be my story.
At some point, my students will realize that other people’s stories can never satisfy the soul. They are created to live their own story. They are invited to help write the next chapter. And if they leave my class only telling my stories then I’m afraid they might have missed the invitation to engage in their own. One danger of being in a Christian school is that it can be too easy to experience the Christian life second-hand and not even know it’s happening. All you’ll think is that Christianity is kind of boring.
The beautiful thing about it is that when I do manage to get out of the spotlight and help my students see the epic nature of God’s grand narrative, then it’s not about me; it’s about him. And the funny thing about God’s story is that he’s always inviting us to join in it with him.
When I do manage to get out of the spotlight and help my students see the epic nature of God’s grand narrative, then it’s not about me; it’s about him.
It will always be about him, because it’s his story, but he asks us to be his traveling companions. And joining him takes getting up out of a desk. It takes more than learning facts and getting a good grade. It requires taking the plunge into the journey he is inviting us all to join.
And that is not boring.
From discipleeducation.wordpress.com. Used with permission.