Saturday, December 13, 2014

Influences in teaching | what I learned from being a teacher and youth leader

I have been teaching for our youth group for a few years now, and I just want to share some influences that helped me shape my teaching style, and be a youth leader at our church. Believe it or not, anime and manga is a part of these influences! Read on and you'll know why.

For around 4 years now, I have been teaching in our Sunday School youth group. Of course I did not get it right at first, and until now I can't say that I am good or perfect at it. It is a learning process.

Anime and Manga

My teaching influences were shaped by reading manga and watching anime. I bet you must be thinking "what!? his influences were not from notable men, or Christian Pastors, or even from his dad?" Well, I still have influences from Christian Pastors, but more on that later.

I read manga and watch anime. These are not just plain cartoons, and I have learned a lot from these too. At least anime is way better than american series where sex, drugs, violence and other mature content (sometimes even considered immoral) is accepted. My aunt agrees too when she said she allows her children, my cousins, to watch anime rather than them watching american shows that are filthy and rated R. Sure anime is violent, have a lot of fights like in Dragon Ball, but the absurdity of its fight scenes is so far from reality that it is directly impossible to mimic. Opposed to real-life violent tv scenes where it is close to reality, and possible to copy.

Anyway, this is not about anime vs tv, and though I learned some life lessons from various anime and manga I have read, what helped me shape my teaching style would be from watching Gokusen, Great Teacher Onizuka and reading Denpa Kyoushi. These three mangas are all about teachers. If you know Gokusen or GTO, it's about a teacher handling the naughtiest class of a school. A class full of delinquests, low-grade/IQ students. And in the show, other students and teachers avoid these delinquent students. Much like our world now, and even in the Christian circle. We avoid "bad people" as warned by our Pastors, or from what we read in the Bible. The thing is, we can be a light to them by not avoiding them and just be a friend to them. Of course if you know you will be doing a sin, that's when you say no. More thoughts of these here, watch this video by Jon Jorgenson | The Anima Series A "Godless" Generation.

These three mangas could be summarized into this: A teacher who cares and risks his life to protect his students, not quick to judge and does his best to understand the situation of the student. A teacher who loves his students, and will sacrifice his time, efforts and sometimes life for the student. A person who stands by with the student, defends the student when they know they are innocent, and gets angry at them not only because they are wrong, but because the teacher really cares about the student. It is about the teacher influencing and guiding the student with life. Not just them obeying the rules, or having good grades, but guiding them with the decisions they will make, and when they make a mistake, they are there to help them up.

Of course I am not that kind of teacher, not exactly like them, and not immediately someone that is close to them, but at least, I try to apply what I have learned.

Jefferson Bethke

This spoken word video by Jefferson Bethke has been both refreshing and confusing for me.[Why I hate religion, but love Jesus] Refreshing because the truth it says about Jesus is true. Confusing because, I should hate religion? Or the church? I showed this video to my parents, and they said it is correct. That it is Christ that saves us, and not religion. So yeah, this is one influential video that led me to read, 3 or 4 years ago. It lead me to search and ask questions about the church. It's not that the church is wrong, but questioning my faith about the church, it's rules, becoming good at this religion thing. I also questioned why some Christians avoid "sinners." And this video is what sparked why I questioned why we, and also me myself, avoid so-called sinners when Jesus Christ himself ate and hanged out with sinners! 

Timothy Keller

For maybe 5 or 6 years now, my dad has been in partnership with his best friend who has a burden of helping Pastors here in Kalinga. And one of the books that they are giving is by Timothy Keller. So when I went to the website of Jefferson Bethke, one of the books he is recommending is The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. This is how I knew about him, and after reading his book, the first book I have read The Prodigal God, I became awesome! jk Well, seriously though, I learned a lot from this book and even realized that I, at times, am an elder brother. A religious hypocrite. A good student who thinks that delinquents, and sinners should be gone from this world. And as a teacher, I tend to separate the good kid from the bad kid. As a Christian, I separate the worldly man from the religious one and go on to be with the religious one to feel good about myself! It is not wrong to stay with religious and Christian friends. I am wrong for thinking I am better than sinners.

Growing up in a church, there have been times that this idea pops up in my brain. "I AM BETTER." And as if the "I AM BETTER" is not enough, it  also became "I AM BITTER. I am bitter when others are better than me. When good things happen to others despite them being "unfaithful" unlike me who works so hard to be a better Christian. When the lifestyle of others are worldly and yet profess as a Christian, while I shape my lifestyle into a Christian one.. Aren't I better than them? Isn't it unfair that they get blessings from God despite what they are doing? Shouldn't I be more blessed than them? Thankfully, I heard about Timothy keller and as I started to grow spiritually, and seemingly mature with my faith, it has changed, and is changing.

Teaching Style

This is how the three influences I have mentioned have helped me develop and shape my teaching style. It is not just a "style" that I have designed to be proficient in teaching, but it is a style developed from the change that Christ has done in me through the lessons I have learned in life.

Thinking about my teaching style, it could be these three.

1. Informational

When I started teaching, I could say that my style has been on the Informational Level. I inform about what this is, what it does, what it means. What is salvation? what is faith? This is what it does, and this is what it means. This kind of style does no good to the student. It is only information that goes into their head, but there is no change that could happen to their lives. While it is true that the word of God is what changes the heart of a person, and not the speaker or the effectiveness of the speaker, it's just that for me I know there is something that I lack. I came to realize that what I lack at that time is dedication or heart to teach. I teach for the sake of imparting information to students, and not having a goal of having a change in their lives. It may be due to my inexperience and as I was just beginning to teach, but anyway this was just the first stage.

2. Authoritarian

Growing up in a church, having heard lots of sermons from camps, anniversaries and etc, the thing that stays in my mind is this: "You need to do this because you are a Christian." Even if it is not their intention, and message that "works is our way to heaven" that is what stayed in my mind. They preach grace when it comes to salvation, but they preach works when it comes to Christian life. I am not criticizing them for their way of preaching, but maybe I just needed another method. That is why I'm thankful for Timothy Keller, and even if our group is being criticized by other baptist Pastors for receiving books from Presbyterian churches and Pastors, I really don't care. I grew and learned more with his books, so why is it so wrong? The theological debate here is just so "wrong" for me, where being theologically right is more important than having a changed life through Christ Jesus, or a person's identity shaped by the love of God.


So yeah, I tried to "control" at times my students. Expecting them to be "christian-like" and be good Christians. And when I can't control them, there is conflict between us. I see them as disobedient, and disrespectful kids. I mean, they are kids! What was I thinking! [Life lesson on expectations]

I then understood their attitude. The angrier you are at them, the more they disobey and get away. Different from how I was raised up. The angrier my parents are, the faster I should move, or work and obey them. I now see them with grace. It is a struggle at times, but I try my best to not lose faith on them. Like what Oliver Queen replied to Wildcat when his sidekick became a villain, and said that Oliver's sidekick, arsenal, will also one day lose his way and be a villain.. "your mistake wasn't cutting him loose. It was losing faith in him." So, if they made a mistake, should I just cut them off? Treat them as disobedient Christians? NO! We have two young people that I think are shy, or hate the "do this.. do that" mentality. It's what I see because they avoid it. The best that I can do is to show grace, mercy and kindness. Not the "why are you not attending!?" So, I encourage our young people to just invite and be kind to them too, simply be a friend.

3. Influential

Lastly, influential. Because I want them to see what Christ has done for them. I want to influence them to see God's grace, goodness, love and mercy. And through this, they in turn will love God too, be merciful and gracious to others. Simply, to let God shape their lives through their relationship with Christ. My post Reading the Bible with Grace talks about how I learned and enjoyed reading and looking for God's grace. And from what I have learned from these manga teachers, I tried to be more friendly to them. Show grace with their mistakes and shortcomings just like what I have written in my post God's Grace can forgive our mistakes.

I like my current style now. I am more close to my students, our youth. It is easier to relate to them, and to guide them. Yes, I'm a leader, teacher, but I am simply just like a brother to them. At the least, that's how I see it. 

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