Monday, May 12, 2014

There are many misguided teachers

After a library activity learning to draw Pokemon, my quiet little boy came home really hot under the collar. 'A girl asked whether or not some of the Pokemon were boys or girls, and the teacher said they have no gender, but they do! She's a dumb teacher!'

The cartooning instructor was obviously just fielding questions, but I think Blake was indignant because he automatically assumed that those who set themselves up as teachers of any subject should know what they're talking about. I guess we're never too young to find out that's not always the case.

I said, 'You should have enlightened her, then.' The subject is one of his passions.
'But I might've got in trouble. She's the teacher.'
So many times we respond like Blake, doing the polite thing by not correcting those in charge when we are certain of a fact. But now she might go on to conduct other cartooning classes, telling all the girls and boys that Pokemon are genderless, and they'll all believe her, because, 'The lady told us!'

It's sad when somebody whose knowledge is limited takes on the role of 'expert' and gets others sincerely believing wrong things about any subject. I totally understand that when we are in the context of being instructors, an 'I don't know' answer may make us lose credibility. Instead, we choose to field questions, coming up with something that sounds reasonable. Long ago, when I was a student teacher, one of my mentors even told me do this. 'Think on your feet and don't let the little so-and-so's run all over you. They won't know the difference.'

Where might it end, though? Those of us who are Australian will remember the TV ad about the little boy who asks his father why the Great Wall of China was built. The bright dad responds, 'It was to keep the rabbits out.' Later, the little boy stands up in front of his class and teacher to present his report about the Great Wall of China.

I believe this may be what the Bible means when it tells us that teachers have a responsibility which makes them subject to even stricter judgment than others. It's because, left unchecked, leaving others to believe untruths may cause havoc down the track. There's a ripple effect. Wanting to save face on the spur of the moment isn't a good enough reason to be responsible for this.

Not long later, it was Emma, watching a You Tube cooking video and crying out, "These people have no idea how to temper chocolate properly! How can they be left to be up here, leading people astray!' Unfortunately, in these times, anybody can proclaim themselves an expert and post something on You Tube.

My turn came next, and I didn't like it. I was reading one of those 'Law of Attraction' type books which seem to be getting churned out in abundance since 'The Secret' was aired. The author of this one breezily wrote something like, 'Jesus didn't intend for us to worship him any more than Ben Franklin expected us to worship him for harnessing electricity. Never once does the Bible set him up as some type of deity. That's just unenlightened human thinking.'

I wanted to throw the book across the floor, except that it was on kindle. It was a popular selling book and the lady who wrote it may make a large sum of money, but she's spouting stuff that simply suits her train of thought without having done her research. Nobody who has seriously studied the pages of Scripture can possibly claim that the Bible doesn't intend to present Jesus as a deity! Whether or not people believe the Bible's claim is a different matter entirely. She brazenly said that it affirms something it doesn't. Making mistakes is one thing, but presenting something as an established fact without checking, just because it suits you, is a dangerous and misguided thing to do.

No matter what nuggets of truth may have been in the rest of her book, I lost my enthusiasm to go on after that. If she made one bold, but wrong, statement to suit herself, how many others may there be?

I think we must be very careful about what we hear, and also about what we tell the people who will take anything we say on board, just because they think we're probably trustworthy. Some doctor may say, 'There's no way you'll ever recover,' or some beauty pageant judge may declare, 'People with your sort of face or height just haven't got the right look.' Blindly believing them may make their statements true in our lives. The tragic thing is that perhaps they didn't have to be!

I'll finish with the story many of us have probably heard, about the lady who taught her daughter that she must trim the ends of her joint of beef before putting it in the oven to roast. After years of simply nodding, the daughter one day asked why. After a few seconds of thought, the mum said, 'My mother taught me. That's just the way it's done. It won't cook properly if you don't.' The young girl's curiosity was piqued by now, and she decided to ask her grandmother. The elderly lady said, 'Oh, it was just because my oven pan used to be too small to fit the whole thing.'     



  1. LOL! That last bit was funny!

    I wonder, do you think that book of yours was more of a version of The Secret for atheists? Because I've found that most people search for information that aligns with their own personal truth. In our day and age, it's easy to find someone somewhere who spouts your truth, harder to find actual truth.

    I used to have a picture book on the scientific method for kids that had a similar story to what your son went through. It gave the perspective of a girl who enjoyed studying a certain animal and was astounded to hear a lecture from a zoo worker that contradicted her observations. The story explained that what the girl didn't know was the zoo expert was a replacement for the person who usually did the talk, and so that "expert" did not know as much about the animal as the girl did. Sometimes you do have to correct the grown-ups. If you can learn to do it in a respectful way, it can really help you in life and getting along with others. Try saying something like, "Is it possible they do have genders? I seem to remember learning ___________ while playing/watching Pokemon."

    I don't know. It might work!
    Peace and Laughter,

    1. Hi Cristina,
      I absolutely agree. Trying to explain to him that if he does correct the grown-ups in a respectful way, then they will benefit too, and may even thank him.
      As for that book, it well might have something like that. I'm sure there are a few around without advertising themselves as such :)

  2. Good post!

    It's something I'm always conscious of when teaching or being asked for advice, and I've had to learn to say, "I don't know". Or, more often, "I don't know. Ask Google".

    1. Hi Iola,
      It happens to me a lot, maybe even at least once a day.
      You've reminded me of the number of times I say, "Google it" and the boys were telling me last night that a new search engine called Bing seems to be trying to compete with Google. They told me that in movies, we'll find characters saying, "Bing it" rather than "Google it."

  3. Great post Paula. I was a Uni lecturer for 25 years and when I first started out, I was very reluctant to let a student know that I couldn't answer one of their questions. I got more relaxed about that over the years and just told them I didn't know, but I would find out for them (if it was a genuine question that needed an answer). I think its important that any teachers (whether officially in that role or just instructing others in a truth, be it the Bible or cooking or writing etc), need to be teachable themselves. That takes humility and an openness to learn, but we'll gain more respect from those we teach if we're honest with them. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Hi Nola,
      I know just what you mean. Saying, "I don't know" once is one thing, but if we keep being asked questions which call for that response, it starts to feel awkward. I agree, saying, "Thanks, I'll find out," should go over well. Since homeschooling, I've discovered many, many things I never knew.

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