Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In the Classroom

As a math teacher, I deal with facts every day. Faith is also dealing with facts, and earlier today I made some observations concerning how some of my students relate to math and given challenges. The parallels to the spiritual are quite striking.
There are those who refuse to leave behind former patterns which they learned on a lower level and which on a higher level are pretty ineffective and will only in rare instances lead to the desired solution. The new procedure is in fact simpler than the old one, but the resistance towards receiving something new is great and the old in a sense provides a sensation of safety. Perhaps it was taught by a favorite teacher on the lower level.
Some dismiss perfect and valid answers because they cannot believe that the calculated solution in fact is the right one. They have done everything right, but feel the given number is wrong. It somehow doesn’t fit into their outlook - the fact doesn’t fit. It is as if they do not trust what the calculation yielded. The feeling is given greater weight that the actual fact. What do they do then? They make up a random number they feel is better and replace it with the right one.
Then we have those who in utter disbelief say that a given way towards a solution doesn’t seem logic and cannot be possibly true. “If I do this then that will happen? Nooo, that cannot be!” “If I speak a word of faith something will happen in accordance with that word? Nooooo! That cannot be.” In this state of denial they apply their own “homemade” method on a problem and that only produce frustration.
Math delusions are very common. Their origins are many and varied. They can stem from teachers whose lectures are confusing and unclear. Pupils can be taught dubious “doctrines” by teachers on the lower levels who themselves do not master all the ins and outs of math. Most common is, however, that students misunderstand and mix together various procedures, algorithms or ideas.
Just like the Spirit is flexible math is a flexible science because many problems can be solved in several ways. Not few times have I been surprised by students who have used three lines in order to arrive at a solution whereas I have strictly followed the procedure and perhaps used 10 lines before I arrive at the solution. To my defense: This works both ways, and in all humbleness mostly in my favor.
Like faith math can be likened to learning a new language. Diligence, persistence and patience will always pay off. The path towards the insight, knowledge or answer is a huge part of the solution or manifestation, if you like. The doubt whether you will actually make it, the disappointments, the wrong answers and the feelings of defeat and loss are all vital in the learning process. The main point is that the answer exists, the solution exists. It is a fact and existed even before you were thrown into the math or faith adventure.
It is those who give up who will never learn the new skill and who will never see the solution to the given problem. Math is merciless in this regard. Faith is in a sense also, because God is a rewarder of faith. What we take, we get.
In all this the teacher plays a key role as a motivator, driving force and faith injector, but he is limited by those who don’t want any help and those who sink down in apathy and self-pity. Some of those are, however, loved and encouraged back to “life”. What joy, what thrill when that happens!

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