I’m celebrating a milestone of sorts today, namely the third anniversary of officially being hired as a teacher at Westminster Christian Academy. In honor of the day, as well as that Learning Education releases in less than a week, I thought I’d post the introduction to the book here. Hope you enjoy.
On April 20, 2007, I was a second-year seminary student with an undergraduate degree in geography who wanted to write and teach for a living. I’d already written my first book, but the only real classroom credential I could list on a resume was teaching Bible part-time at a classical school the year before. My mother was an English teacher for 30 years, and my grandfather had been a beloved elementary school principal for 40; maybe, I thought, that would count for something.
There I was – a guy in his mid-thirties with little formal classroom experience and no education degree – applying for a Bible position that over 50 others were applying for as well. Married with four daughters, I’d spent the past 12 years raising support as part of our camp and conference ministry, but since I was no longer camping and conferencing, the support was running out. I was only halfway through seminary and had failed Hebrew twice; a full-time teaching position just seemed out of the question.
Gracious personal references somehow positioned me as one of the top three candidates applying for the role, but I still had to convince the administration I knew something about teaching (or at least enough to get hired and learn what I didn’t). After a shaky interview (remember my qualifications – or lack thereof), I taught an 80-minute Ethics class I’d prepared on the eighth commandment. By God’s grace, I received a round of student applause at the end of the class (a first, I was told), and a phone call later that day informing me I got the job.
Now began the real education…mine. Finishing my degree while teaching full-time gave me a chance few teachers get – take important education classes toward qualifying me for what I was already doing as a real teacher. Forget eight weeks of student semi-teaching; this was a daily do-or-die, trial-by-fire, multi-year, hands-on reality…and the best (and hardest) training for “learning” education.
Meant to be as much memoir as methodology, Learning Education chronicles these first three years and what it was like to go to class in the evening, learn something new, and try it out with students the very next morning (honestly, some of the best lesson plans my first year were little more than this). I wrote a lot about what I was learning as a student, and even more about what I was learning as a teacher (though I wouldn’t say the two were or are mutually exclusive by any means).
While most of the material is comprised of edited blog posts and submitted seminary papers, I’ve also included interviews, emails, lists, notes from reading logs, quotes from articles and book reviews, and anything else that seemed to make summarizing sense of my experience. Read the book straight through, or pick and choose according to your interests. I won’t promise you’ll become a better student or a better teacher, but my prayer for you – as it was for me – is that you’ll become better as both.
April 27th is the official release day, so mark your calendars and spread the word. More to come between now and then…