Public schools are in full force now with parents everywhere emitting sighs in relief and children bowing their heads as they trudge back to the mines of mental wealth. Perhaps this is too bleak a picture since I have discovered, to my shock and pleasure, that several of our young people have been looking forward to heading back into the classroom; that is where their friends will be after the summer and activities begin in earnest (sports, band, etc.). For some, there is the information. Some young people actually like to learn.

Children like to learn. For what other reason is “why” the most frequently used word in their vocabulary? However, much of the problem with what they learn, how quickly they learn, and how much they learn has to do with the environment and the methodology connected with the learning. It is silly to expect someone to learn right while being taught wrong. Likewise, the hurdle of poor teaching methods can impede learning.

If children are placed in an environment that encourages and rewards learning, they will not only learn, they will learn that learning carries intrinsic rewards. The true teacher will impress upon the student that learning is a way of life, not just x-number of years of grueling punishment, a sort of initiation or rite of passage into the “real world.” If children are given every opportunity to understand principles that foster right thinking, as opposed to regurgitating meaningless facts in order to pass a test, they will be able to assimilate new information without fear, trepidation, or hesitancy. Life will become a challenge in exercising their gray matter instead of another day to dig a deeper rut. “New” is only scary for those who no longer have the capacity to think. Further, the quantity of information available to young minds is endless and constitutes a challenge to live learning. Bright minds tend to see positive opportunities as opposed to the negative obstacles on the road of life.

The challenge set before a Bible Class teacher is ominous and the competition is fierce. We face a variety of distractions, from a mind-dulling media to mind-bending drugs. The excitement, entertainment, and emptiness of these activities (and calling them “activities” may be a misnomer) has produced a society of non-thinkers. Therefore, to encourage a Bible student to read his or her Bible may be stifled by the fact that they do not read. Mental concepts that leap from the pages of the Good Book may challenge young people who are used to having their imagination served up to them on a Hollywood buffet.

Those of us who teach the Bible must be innovative and committed, and all within the confines of Bible authority. We must use all the resources at our disposal in this battle for the mind of our Bible students and teach them that leaning, especially from God’s Word, has no end. Where we fail, the church in that particular location will fail. The innovations that have splintered the church in recent years are a direct result of not knowing God (Hosea 4:6); someone failed to teach and/or someone failed to learn.

Jeff Sweeten