The art of teaching is more complex than I imagined as a young teacher. As my own children are entering college, I find myself looking back on my teaching to try to find the most valuable components. What are those things that have transcended my experience as a student at all levels, that which has been usable by my own students? Looking back, I have been successful in the academic world – at least by some standards. I earned my Bachelor’s degree. I earned a California teaching credential. I worked to get a Master’s degree while we had two kids. I have a doctorate, a Ph.D. no less. It was through the Ph.D. experience that I understood that my best learning experiences were those that challenged me to question everything.
The more that I questioned, the more I was able to understand. I realized motivations that drove people. I saw through some of the facades of life. I became unafraid to ask the really hard questions. The Ph.D. experience validated my skepticism. The best professors pushed me to not just question the outside world, but also myself. They challenged me to be the best that I can be. That meant questioning my past to get to the roots of who I am and what motivates me. It was through questioning everything that I was able to find purpose.
If I am seeking to live out my Christianity, I need to question my purposes. I need to interrogate my motives and the results of those motives. If what I am doing is ineffective, then I need to change my actions. The actions that I take are essential to who I am and trying to be. If I lose my love for others or if they can not feel that love – and I am not writing about the “tough love” that hurts people – then I really need to question what I am doing.
My purpose – to love God and love others. To find it means that I need to question everything.