I have done a lot of lecturing this week, both inside and outside the classroom. It has given me a chance to reflect on what it means to be a teacher, especially of theology and Scriptures.
I used to think, as a student, that teachers were paid to come up with new ideas and novel approaches to problems. Sure, they can and sometimes do, in fact, provide these things. However, as an instructor myself, I have come to realize that very little of what I say in class is “original.” Rather, my role, if we performed, is to:
– Selectively offer the insightful pieces of information, amid the vast amount of literature I access weekly
– Distill the centuries and decades of scholarship in my subject
– develop analogies and models that help contextualize the theoretical information I have learned, to better serve young or uninitiated students
– tacitly and explicitly make a case for the usefulness of theological reasoning and interpretation in everyday life
– help students and other learners process the method through which they read the Bible and think about “theology” and religion
This moves me further away from what I all along expected to be in academia – an information giant. Rather, we (as teachers) are roaming interpreters, moving between book and community, rapackaging heavy loads into bearable ideas and exhortations.