Bishop Sheen began the week he talked about what is a good teacher with this story- in fact it was a cartoon. It had appeared in the New Yorker. The cartoon showed a prosecutor cross examining a witness on the stand. The prosecutor asked him, “What were you doing the night of Jan. 7 at 9:00 pm?” The man replied, “ I was seated with my family watching Bishop Sheen on the television.”
What makes a good teacher? Well that there was a prime example of one of the best introductions in the history of television. The secret of a good teacher is not engage the student and to impart wisdom. This is extremely difficult in today’s society. Instead of having interesting teachers imparting knowledge we have rote memorization, we have group learning, and we have students teaching themselves.
Can you imagine what would happen in medical school if the doctors educated themselves? If students were not trained properly before they began to operate would you like that person to experiment on you? Would you like to be defended by an attorney that was taught by other students? Trial and error here will end up in an error in your trial. This is a simple fact.
Bishop Sheen was a college professor for twenty-five years. He would tell stories about what it takes to be a good teacher. These truths are as valid today as they were then. He explained about the teacher who used the same notes over and over every year. If the person had taught twenty-five years- would he have twenty-five experience or would he have twenty-five one year experiences? This question was easily deflected by Bishop Sheen when he told his audience that a good teacher tears up his notes each year and never uses them again. This advice is golden. What worked once with one group may not work well with another group that next year.
What makes a good teacher? Bishop Sheen explained the greatest teacher is related to his students like a doctor is related to their patients. Communication is the key here. Education can not be simply just a textbook wired for sound. A teacher should teach like an inventor invents. A teacher should learn while they teach. A teacher who fails this fails their students and their selves.
Can a student just learning everything through discussion? No, there must be a standard. The teacher is that standard in the classroom. Students do not learn properly on their own and we should not allow this as the model of education unless we wonder what will happen to our educational system.
Some people today would say that all we need is You Tube or the Internet and you can teach yourself anything. This may be the case but at what cost? At what cost to our society?
In the 1950’s when Bishop Sheen was on TV, life was much different but Life Was Worth Living. Today, the world has changed but the problem of good education remains the same.
Today there is a lack of general themes that tie unrelated facts together. The main problem was addressed by a comment of Bishop Sheen when he related this story about President Lincoln. A person asked Lincoln about why he read so much. Lincoln told that person that he was not studying to get a job but he was studying so hard to live after he got that job.
When education has been cut back to the basics and core courses- have we made a mistake? When we look at test scores to see if a teacher makes a difference in the lives of their students have we made a mistake? Is education nothing more than a training ground for employment? Maybe we are missing the point entirely. The greatest teacher who ever lived was Jesus Christ, we can all learn from Him.
However, something else that is just as important as we are coming up on the 40th anniversary of his death, Bishop Sheen is perhaps the greatest teacher of 20th century as well as the greatest teacher who appeared on mass media. Watch him speak today, it is like he is speaking directly to you. Watch him tell about Jesus- it is like you are right there with Him. This is not simply good TV this is Living A Worthy Life.