On Pedagogy and Temptation

It's difficult sometimes to overcome the impulse to teach, when what is required is only to teach. Uhhhm, do I need to explain that?

Yesterday, I took a class-full of students outside because their assigned reading was Thoreau's Walden, and it was 74 and sunny. I tossed out one of those general starting questions, "So, what do you think?" And one student pointed out the section where Thoreau talks about clothing. She read aloud:
...if my jacket and trousers, my hat and shoes, are fit to worship God in, they will do... I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit?
I said, "Well that's Biblical, right?"--and then I did my best to paraphrase Matthew 6:31: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' " But my Southern Baptist students weren't so familiar with that verse. Usually, when I say, "That's Biblical, right," they can finish the verse for me. It always makes them comfortable when something reinforces what they know of the Bible. But now they were looking at me with disapproving eyebrows, probably reflecting on their own history of "church clothes."

I said, "Look, think of Thoreau as America's first hippie. That's what he was. He had long hair. He never got old. He grumbled about the government." They laughed and nodded. Then I said, "So, could this kind of dirty-hippie attitude be compatible with Christianity?"

"No." "No." "No," they agreed.

And it's at that moment that I really wanted to teach -- to shove it down their faces that "YES it could be compatible. In FACT, you hypocrites, you snakes, if Christianity is anything it's not worrying about the clothes you wear or how slim your iPod is!"

But I only teach, and thumb to another part of the text, and say aloud, "Hmmm. Okay. Anything else worth examining closely?"


Wishydig said...

that seems so odd to me, because pretty early on my teachers were pushing the whole "jesus was the first hippie" thing.

at the same time that they were telling us how important it is to dress nice for church because "it shows that you care."

exactly. that's why i dress like i do.

Casey said...

You remember that scary old guy in Poltergeist? Every one of my students has a grandpa that was just like that guy, and every one of them goes to church with guys just like that.

Casey said...


Wishydig said...

he baptised me.

Casey said...

Full immersion?

Wishydig said...

yes. the sda church thinks full immersion is very important. need to really get all that sin washed off.

malated (perfect)

Casey said...

I wasn't going to continue this comment thread, but I see my verification word is also appropriate:


I guess Southern Baptists are into full-immersion too.

And me too, really, if a good swim in open water counts.