Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reciprocity of Teaching and Learning

Parents often find out to their annoyance that kids do what you do, not what you say. They turn out to be a lot smarter than parents give them credit for, except most parents don't get it, for they think they are raising their kids, when it's really the other way around, and the kids are raising them, except it often results in learning failure if the parents think they already know everything. Or, properly seen, it's a two way process. It's one of the lies of our culture that we're grown-up at age so and so (varies by culture and time), and that we are ready to be parents just because we have kids. Perhaps we should consider that having kids is an accelerated learning opportunity, which most of us at best only realize long after families fall apart, kids hate their parents, and so on.

The same goes in teaching. Kids learn more from watching you learn than from watching you teach, and thus teaching by example remains the most powerful form of teaching, and of course in a classroom setting that example can be one of the students who isn't getting it, and who is asking all the stupid questions that everybody else also has, but does not dare to ask.

A Course in Miracles is all about teaching by learning. Throughout the book it becomes clear that the wealth of teaching that is there is designed to be practiced, not be the subject of speculation, and theological reflection. It is indeed a very practical course. The intellectual presentation merely serves to reassure us, and give us some hand holding, as we learn to let go of the thought system of the ego, and learn the thought system of the Holy Spirit. This structure of teaching= learning and vice versa is also found in the structure of the book, as almost a college curriculum, with a text, a workbook for students and a manual for teachers. The trick is we are both the student and the teacher, and our best teaching is when we are good students. Teaching classes on the Course has nothing to do with it, and if anyone calls themselves a teacher of the Course, my suggestion would be you run for the hills, or go play some billiards down the street instead.

In the Thomas material, this reciprocity of teacher and student, is the subject of Logion 108, where this reciprocal relationship with Jesus finds very graphical symbolic expression, showing us that by learning from him, we do become like him as a teacher, because in this learning by example we will experience that Jesus's experience becomes our own, which has nothing to do with copying him in form, as Christianity has too often taught. It is about learning from him in content. Also in the Course we find the same notion expressed when Jesus tells us that the only difference between him and us is in time, not in reality.

    "No man cometh unto the Father but by me" does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis. You stand below me and I stand below God. In the process of "rising up," I am higher because without me the distance between God and man would be too great for you to encompass. I bridge the distance as an elder brother to you on the one hand, and as a Son of God on the other. My devotion to my brothers has placed me in charge of the Sonship, which I render complete because I share it. This may appear to contradict the statement "I and my Father are one," but there are two parts to the statement in recognition that the Father is greater. (ACIM:T-1.II.4)

No comments:

Post a Comment