OUR daughter, Naomi, teaches prep in Proserpine.
Last week I asked her if the children were learning letters and numbers yet.
“Mum,” she replied, “first they have to learn how to sit on the carpet, put their hand up and take turns to ask a question.”
A lot of learning happens before the learning can begin; you need to build a safe social environment.
Perhaps it is the same with a congregation?
There are all kinds of theories about learning.
Plato, Piaget, Dewey and Glasser all have some useful facets to contribute.
Movies such as To Sir with Love, Mr Holland’s Opus and Coach Carter remind us that the relationship with a teacher can
be inspiring, empowering and transformative.
My Year Six teacher, Mrs Gladys Kelly, was like that for me.
Her classroom was an ordered place, but not without laughter.
She was able to identify the stumbling blocks so that every child could “get it”.
Her gentle encouragement made us strive a bit harder so that we could get one of those lovely Merit stamps or, if we really excelled, the more elaborate Special Merit.
Each child was given a job in the classroom that would stretch them just enough to give them a sense of pride.
No wonder each Monday morning children would bring her flowers that they had grown or collected from the bush.
Relationships are important for learning the Christian faith too.
When grandparents take time to read a Bible story or when parents teach children how to say grace, the relationships are
as important as the content.
It seems to me that when Jesus said to his friends, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”, he was talking about a relationship of learning.
Bullocks yoked together progress forward pace by pace.
The idea of being yoked together means that you can’t run ahead.
A bullock unwilling to be yoked must eventually submit or else he wounds himself and maybe other members of the team as well.
A team of bullocks yoked together can endure longer and pull heavier loads.
There is synergy in being yoked.
The Synod slogan, Together on the way, enriching community, recognises the advantage of being yoked together and expresses the hope that the community will also benefit from the synergy generated.
It takes courage to try to learn something new and we can feel foolish when we struggle to master a new skill.
An attitude of humility can help the process.
One of the values for UnitingCare staff is “Leading through learning”.
It captures two aspirations – to be leaders in providing health care and community services and that each staff member and volunteer will strive to learn new skills, to keep up-to-date and to reinvest that learning so that the clients get better service.
A disciple of the Christian faith needs someone who can mentor them as they learn and grow.
One of the disappointing aspects of the role of Moderator is dealing with people who don’t get along or who are unwilling to
learn something new.
Naomi observed that many of the things she is teaching her prep class are the same as the things Jesus taught his friends like learning to be generous, to share, to take turns, to be courageous, to forgive and to try again.
Then the learning can really begin.