vrijdag 10 september 2010

The Preaching Teacher

Weekend!!! I just got out of my car and feel like all the energy just left my body the moment my feet hit the threshold of our house. Right now I would love to check into a beauty farm and have every single treatment that is on their menu! Not that it has not been fun out there! Truely enjoyed my teaching moment and do feel very content about my ambitious life. Also I felt a bit relieved to find out that I still got that bit of magic that it takes to be called a 'good' teacher by others.

Yes, sometimes I feel a bit scared that there will come a day that I don't feel the same when teaching. After all it is my audience that is sending out the signals. Best test is a religion lesson! Because it is in there you go in blind. No guarantees what so ever!

When I decided to take that subject as a minor at teaching college I did it because I truely wanted to. Not that I do consider it a calling but still. In those three years I found out that it is the most complex subject to teach when dealing with teenagers. My professors were very demanding! And yes I not always felt very secure. Some of my lesson plans came back covered in the most loved color of all and made me scream out loud for mercy.

During that time I did find out that teaching that subject can bring me so much more. Okay, the History and English bit I do still miss! That my teaching history took me to a special ed school that is filled up with extra ordinary kids who can still push me to the edge of my abilities I consider now a true blessing.

So yes, I admit it here now very openly the moment that I know that I get to teach religion in a class I am a happier and content teacher. Why is that? Well, because it is during these lessons that I am granted to enter the lives of many. It is during these 100 minutes that I am given the priveledge to get to know my pupils better. Not that they grant me immediately access to their inner sanctum! Nope!

When it happens that teenagers grant you permission to enter that part of they vulnarable lives I do realise that I need to be careful. That I have to be honest myself and also not act as the Pope himself. Even in there I try 'to be Switzerland' but at the same time try to act according to my true beliefs! And I do open up and tell them that there are also moments that I feel so mixed up, not know what life should stand for, wonder if there is a God out there, doubt the fact that religion can make the difference in somebody's life, feel so down when people seem to 'abuse' religion and that I do think that the 'promised' land or peaceful world is still not in sight!

Today I was granted once more access and God (;-)) did it feel so damn (pardon my French)good to be a teacher. I had them right where I wanted, totally focused and their hearts on their sleeves. Before I knew we were sitting on that one magic carpet ride that makes me fly high up in the sky! These are the moments that I would like to have a complete camera crew in my class room to let you all find out that the present youth has got some very strong opions and does have the ability to reflect very soundly about many hot topics.

I do think that this is today not something that you should take for granted and especially as a religion teacher. Today two current affairs made me feel a bit less sure about my own belief! First of all the announced Koran burning activity that was called for to remember 9/11 and second the final report of the Commission Adriaessens (that deals with abuse in the Catholic Church in Belgium!). Both made me suddenly a bit less outgoing when dealing with belief and faith!

In the Koran burning I do not see the point. But I do know enough about the US and they way they take their Bill of Rights and the 10 amendments to heart. It is a shame that I know the Constitution a great deal better then my own Belgian regulations. But I had two great teachers at Hoover High who guided me through it all. Still, you can't justify an act like that by just pointing at a certain amendment.

And yes, I did download the final report of the Commission to see black on white what the very bleak accounts of many hurt souls was. I felt a bit out of place to be granted the opportunity to read the painful stories of people who got hurt where it hurts the most and this by people who we grant sometimes unconditional trust and seem to be flawless! There is not one adjective suitable enough to express my opinion about it. It has silenced me! Yes, also my special ed kids already pointed out very sharply what they think about it.

So when one of my students (because that is how I approach them even at a special ed level because at 16 or 17 you do want to be taken serious!!!) asked me what the point of religion is, I did feel so at home in my own classroom. Not that I am able to give them a straight forward answer to one of the most fundamental questions that is to be found out there. I am not after those when teaching about any religion or when we cover the basis of non-belief.

It is my first touch stone as a religion teacher that I am not out there to judge any pupil on their personal belief or values. Still I challenge them travel along when I tell them about the numerous inspiring stories that there out to be found. Also I let them in on what my personal opinions are and how I look at the sometimes rather ****** ** world .

So, the passion is still there when it comes down to teaching. To teach or to preach? Those two verbs rhyme but I do think that the first still becomes me better. I am very grateful to my pupils that they point out once in while when I am about to cross that line! Makes me at least the most 'believable' teacher I can be!

P.S.: Yes, I do still pray! This against all odds!! But at least I try! This is also one of the songs I will be using in my classroom to engage in an other inspiring & spiritual talk!

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