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Day 24: Let me confess – I am being ignored

September 14, 2018

1“Wait – I don’t understand.  Am I a raccoon or a skunk?” asked an exasperated Trevor, throwing his hands in the air.  The rest of the class roared.  It was Friday and the winning class of the month – “Zeta Chi” is their name – beat out the other teams including Phi Beta and Omega Rho in academic and game competition in order to win the right for an in-class party.  There were chips and salsa and cake – and games.  We were playing “Animal Whomp” and the students were shouting, laughing and running across the room.  I was the “umpire” of the game, but in reality I introduced the game, explained the rules, and got out of the way. The result was hilarious and I truly wish I would have taken some pictures.  Some of the responses were priceless.  “Giraffe” forgot the rules and went into  brain freeze.  “Zebra” slipped and fell off his chair.  “Collie” kept tricking “Groundhog” into so many wrong answers that it seemed like we would never see him out of the penalty box.

The students were having a great time on their own.  I could have left the room completely and they would have had no idea.

I am being ignored.

Oh, that’s not the only time. It’s been happening all month.

Take, for example, just this week.  I had been teaching on Angelology.  “Now, how many wings are angels supposed to have?” I asked.

“Well, two, of course,” said Amy, shrugging.

“Okay, then,” I said, “then look up Ezekiel chapter one in the First Testament and tell me how many wings those heavenly creatures have.”  The students opened up their Bible apps and searched.

“Whoa,” said Nicholas, pointing and nodding to Alec.  “They have four wings … and, and and … four faces!”

“Get out of here,” said Alec.

“Look for yourself,” said Nicholas.

As they chattered among themselves I called above the din.  “Now look at Isaiah chapter six  and let me know how many wings the special angels called seraphim have.”

Heather found the passage first.  She shook her head.  “Six wings.”  There were more comments between the rows.

The students were shuffling pages or scrolling through their Bible apps, exclaiming to each other and raising eyebrows in response.  They forgot all about me.

I am totally okay with that.

I had learned years ago the principle of going anonymous.

In my early career when I was in radio broadcasting, I read On the Road,  a great book from veteran CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt.  In it, he spoke harshly of reporters who felt they had to squeeze their personality into a good story because they wanted to inflate their presence.  He mentioned situations where reporters would ride tricycles across the television screen or do other antics in order to “make a name for themselves.”

Let the story be the story,” he wrote.  “Report it and stay out of it.”

That’s really the way teaching should be.  The subject matter should carry itself.  Especially in Bible.

Yesterday in a school assembly we members of the Bible staff were put onstage to field questions that students had written to get answers to spiritual things puzzling them.  I glanced across the audience as various colleagues of mine gave Biblical responses.  I saw the eyes of the students taking in the Scripture.  It’s especially at this point that you realize that the students could care less of the personality of the teacher; they want to get an answer.  Well, the same goes in the daily Bible class.

The less the students notice me, the better the message.

Jesus is the center of the classroom, not Brad Zockoll. Ten, twenty, fifty years from now, the most important remembrance is not whether they recalled my personality, but whether they learned and embraced the Christ of the Bible in His glory.

Stephen, a junior, walked by me as I was shuffling papers at my desk.  “You may want to know,” he said, “that there was a table at lunch that was pretty loud.  They were arguing over the John 15 passage that you had taught in your class.  A pretty powerful debate going on, there.”

Not one mention of me.

I love it.


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