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Jesus of Nazareth : portrait of a teacher Norman, Susan Marie

Abstract

This study looks at a teacher from the past to answer four questions: What made Jesus of Nazareth an effective educator? Looked at through the lens of educational theory, how did he teach? What characterized the learning environment he created? Can he be a role model for teachers today? To answer these questions, this study begins by briefly examining the components in Jesus' teaching situation: the context, the learners, the ideals or teaching goals, the content, and the teacher himself. Jesus used a variety of teaching techniques. Frequently, he used parables, questions, and poetry to achieve his teaching goals: critical thinking, internal change, and harmonious living. While he had constant interaction with individuals and small groups, he also lectured large crowds. Although he rarely employed re-enactment as a technique, he used it to such great effect that it remains an essential teaching tool for his followers today. Throughout his teaching career, he taught learners how to live. His private and public use of prayer gave his learners content, but also an example to follow. For learning in the affective domain, he used apprenticeship. Through his use of humour and silence, he modeled both how to teach and how to live. His teaching encouraged learning in both the cognitive and affective domains. The learning environment Jesus created was characterized by accessibility. By going where his learners lived and by warmly welcoming those on the margins of society, he made his teaching physically accessible. By using a wide variety of techniques, he made his teaching intellectually accessible, even for learners not physically present. By using hospitality to care for his learners' needs, he made his teaching emotionally accessible. In setting the tone of the learning environment, he exercised humility, courage, compassion, and integrity. For three groups of teachers, Jesus is a particularly appropriate role model because they share similar goals: religious educators, especially Christian ones; non-religious moral teachers; and those seeking to provide holistic education. However, Jesus exemplified characteristics that make him an inspiring role model for all teachers: flexibility, creativity, sensitivity, and consistency.

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