“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” – Haim Ginott
Sometimes I read this quote and think “I sure hope this isn’t true!” but then I see the truth in it. I love the teachings of Steve Brown, he is so quick to affirm God’s love for me, His unconditional love for me, to remind me that I am a child of God and can call Him Abba Father. What great peace of mind this gives me. Sometimes when I feel like a failure, when I am a failure, when I’m reminded of my fallenness, it’s easy to want to hide from it. To act like I have it all together and am ‘saved;’ saved so I can appear to others as being Holy and Righteous in myself. But I’m not. I’m saved so I can be naked and unashamed, so I can be transparent in my weakness and yet know that I am loved and cherished.
When I think on the above quote, I see my successes and I smile, but then I quickly remember my failures and honestly I want to hide from them. But God calls us to be vulnerable and to help each other through our ups and our downs, not just our ups.
I remember a day when my daughter questioned something the science book was teaching, I got irritated – ‘I didn’t write this, it’s not my opinion, it’s what is.’ Instead of nurturing her, I got frustrated – I didn’t have a better answer and she just had to accept what the book said. I look back on that day now and wish I would have said, ‘That’s an interesting point you are making – we should do some research and find out why they say that.’ But no, I just moved on and, at least for that moment, squashed her inquisitiveness. I can’t say I always did that, there were times I would stop, change directions and go with the flow of learning and inquiry, but not always.
I think back to teachers that inspired me and I realize they set the mood, the tone of their classroom and geared it towards enlightenment, wonder, and acceptance. They shared their love for learning with me and I drank it in. Others, the ones I felt stifled by, tried to squash the inquisitiveness; they set their stage and went with their set agenda even if it wasn’t working. They were more interested in teaching the lesson, as I was that day with my daughter, than they were in inspiring the student to a love of learning.
We, as homeschool parents, have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders. We take it willingly and with love, but we have to remember that we are the decisive element in our child’s learning. He can inspire or squash, and unlike when I was growing up and had some good teachers that did inspire and some bad ones, we are their only teachers, so we must be all the more aware of the responsibility we have.
Given that, it is important that we remember Who is the decisive element in our lives. We need to remember God’s love for us, His mercy, His grace, and His forgiveness. We need to remember that He sent Jesus as our Savior, not because we’re great people without any faults, but because we actually need a Savior. We are fallen people in a fallen world and, where one day there will be a new heaven and earth with no more sin and death, that day isn’t today. We strive to be the best we can be, not to earn any medal, but because we are loved. We strive to be that positive decisive element in our classroom, not because we are perfect, but because we love.