Learning & Teaching

“Pedagogue” or teacher means “one who walks beside.”

by Derrel Emmerson

4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. (Acts 13:4-5)

These verses give us a very clear picture of how the teachers of the early church travelled and how they passed on the knowledge which they had gained. They went two by two. In this case not only did Paul and Barnabas travel as teaching companions but they took John Mark with them as their helper. That means he carried the baggage. He probably made arrangements and shopped for food when necessary.

This is a common way by which disciples of all ages have learned. They have learned what it takes to serve by serving. They learned from doing the most mundane things to the actual teaching. They learned in the hours of travel and by the evening lamp light by instruction and discussion.

This method of learning of teaching was an ancient one. The teachers walked with their students and the students absorbed all they could from their teachers. It was the method of Jesus with his 12 disciples. It was the method used for many years until the formation of monasteries and universities. From this method we get the word “pedagogue” or teacher. It really means one who walks beside.

No matter how we learn our faith, it has always served the learner well to have a friend or teacher who can sit with us and share practical understanding in a practical setting. This is mentorship. It is learning which goes beyond the theoretical. It is the kind of learning which goes on in much of the world today in places where there are no schools and open places of instruction.

We will do well to have a mentor in our lives. While Christian authors can be our mentors there is nothing which surpasses the sharing of our faith with others in small circles where we can discuss life challenges. We will do well to seek out such centers of faith and life instruction.

We might add that there is nothing which surpasses always keeping an attitude of learning just as John Mark had as he travelled doing menial things for his brothers in Christ.

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