The Latin root of the verb educate means “to draw out” or “bring forth.”
Teachers illuminate the subject matter, but they also bring something forth from the student. They draw knowledge out, not dump it in.
It’s a different way of understanding the verb and a teacher’s role in the classroom. It changes everything: how I teach, what I expect, and what constitutes the goal of our interaction. Drawing out means there’s some glorious and wonderful thing inside a mind that I want to bring to the light.
I’m on a treasure hunt; I’m on a deep sea dive; I’m on a fishing expedition.
“To draw out” a person–bring them to the surface–means I cast the line, linger patiently in those deep waters of the mind, and wait until the nibble comes. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it reminds me of the work of drawing any person out. Marriage, parenting, friendships, work relationships, and even encounters with strangers might be deep sea fishing and diving expeditions.
Wouldn’t our dates, our dinner conversations, our seminars, and our book clubs be richer if we were all deep sea divers into the mind of another person? What a privilege to learn from you! What a privilege to draw something out of you!
I suppose that’s why I want to be a teacher, not just with students, but with every interaction. I want to draw out and not dump in.
Yesterday, my oldest daughter had to choose one object from home that best represents her to share with her class. The teacher wrote: “Find one thing that best describes who you are.”
She said she’d choose one of three things: her Bible, her journal, or a photo of her cats. She values God, her writing, and her family members (OK, they are cats, but still).
I’m cleaning my bedroom and I pass over various things I’ve collected over the years: jewelry, clothing, books, candles. Was there anything precious in the whole lot? Was there anything I could say best represented me–the way my daughter could find the essential core of her identity in 3 objects?
Cleaning day suddenly becomes so much easier. I don’t need so many things. I can pare down to essentials–the things that represent me and what our family values. If it doesn’t fit into that essential core, I can recycle it or give it away.
I’m seeing toys and trinkets differently. I start to visualize what it means to give my children objects that can begin to represent their core identity. God, creativity, relationships. Can it be that simple? Suddenly, cleaning never felt so pure, so right. Suddenly the toy aisle and clothing section of stores don’t have the same pull. Sure, I can buy things as diversions to fill up the days (as I often want to do for myself), but when it comes right down to it, what lasts (and what we want to keep) we can’t even hold in our hands.
Parenting–and living with flair– might be broken down into these three things: God, creativity, and relationships. Does every room I’m cleaning help foster these three things? If not, I’m rearranging the space and purging the objects within it to make room for flair.
Today, I remembered something unique about God’s economy. In Christianity, the move you give, the more you receive. The times when you feel last, you are actually first. The times you act as a servant, you become the leader. I wonder about this upside down approach to living. Some mornings, I feel the weight of various insecurities–mostly relational or financial. I worry about all sorts of relationships: family, friends, co-workers. And then I worry about financial things: what I need, what my children will need, what our future might require of our resources.
What a debilitating way to conduct myself during the day! Insecurity becomes a prison. Insecurity keeps my focus on myself–what I need, what I’m getting, and what I’m not getting. I feel insecure because of what I think I’m missing.
What’s the solution to insecurity?
Insecurity arises out of a heart that’s concerned with what it’s not getting. When I turn the kaleidoscope and focus on what I can give, who I can love, and what I can provide for others, I see the day in a whole new way. I stop worrying so much about myself because I’m living abundantly according to spiritual and not material principles.
I’m trying to teach my children that as long as they worry about who likes them and what they can accumulate, they will continue to live under the illusion of security. Their souls won’t rest. But when they choose to love and give generously to others, miraculously, they find the kind of relational and financial security they seek. It’s the model that Jesus teaches, however confusing and however counter-intuitive. I pray we can have the wisdom to live like that.