Wisdom in the classroom, one cup at a time

By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW

If I could make teaching and learning better in the school room, I would spend five minutes a day on a verse or two from Solomon, then add a few comments. Kids and adults respond to his ideas if you explain them. Those who don’t know about the Bible or its ideas on wisdom may not know how much scripture values learning.

This occurs to me as I read this passage this morning and drink my coffee:

Proverbs 10:14: “A wise man stores up knowledge. But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.”

This hits on a mistake most of us made when we were kids in school. It’s easy to think, “This subject doesn’t apply to me. Why do I have to learn grammar when I speak gooder enough now?”

A wise person knows to stockpile knowledge like a squirrel stores up nuts for the winter. I may not need those facts now, but sure as the seasons change, I will need at least some of them later on and no, I don’t know which ones they will be.

Solomon doesn’t think much of fools. Neither do I, for that matter. When they open their mouth, we all get close to things going very, very badly. I mean, how much advice should we take from those who are about to destroy themselves?

I recall talking with a woman who told me she wasn’t feeling very well. She described her symptoms and I asked her if she had told these things to her doctor.

“Oh no,” she said. “What if he told me it was something bad?”

Here’s another thought with the same theme:

Proverbs 12:1 “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”

To love being taught means something more than a teacher telling us where Brazil is. Solomon says that knowledge can only come when we are willing to have someone correct us. That is the broader Hebrew meaning of the term “instruction” here, and we must “love” it, even when it hurts.

Most agree that learning something new is a good thing. This verse takes that further. It says we are in danger when we resent being told that we are wrong. We risk becoming “brutish.” This Hebrew word pictures an animal, like a cow (Strongs Concordance), that is happy just eating grass and doesn’t care where burgers and leather purses come from.

If the idea of being wise is explained, it can become part of the mental DNA of a student or a classroom. It is sort of like how we drive on the right side of the road while other countries drive on the left. We don’t decide which side to drive on, because that is already a given. In the same way, wisdom can become the unspoken guide for the other issues we need to discuss. In the school room, it supports the learning process and will expose those as fools who want to scuttle it. This tells me that wisdom scripture is a friend and not a foe to learning. It is foolish not to use it.

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This story was posted on June 5, 2014.