BigRead13 Day 27 : Teacher

You can find day 27’s post from the #BigRead13 here.

Luke 6:40 today:

A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.

I have to confess that this is a verse which I’ve not knowingly focussed on before. We’re asked to compare with a selection from CS Lewis’s Prince Caspian about the eponymous prince liking his new tutor and then pondering what we learned from our teachers.

Some of you may know that I’m a mathematician by training (way back in my pre beancounting days). It was a toss up between maths and physics for university and maths won – back then I wanted the purity of something pure, rather than something that might be “useful”. Ironically, once at university I specialised in applied maths. I had two particularly influential teachers though:

  • Mr Hoare. Mr Hoare decided that we should learn more than the book told us. We had to do three out of five modules to pass Further Maths. He taught us the whole book. On occasions he’d throw the planned lesson away and set it as homework instead because he’d had a more interesting question in his postbag (he was the problems editor of the Mathematical Gazette), and ask us to help him solve it.  I learned from him the value of digging deeper and being curious about the basic questions.  I’m not sure he’d have necessarily welcomed this curiosity being one of the things that led me to reading the Bible though, but nevertheless…
  • Mr Clare. Mr Clare taught me GCSE Physics and Electronics together with A-Level Physics. He again taught us beyond the textbook.  Frequently he’d say “This is what the book says. Now, I can’t lie to you. It doesn’t work that way at all actually.  What really happens is… Oh, but remember the simpler answer in the book because that’s what you need for your exams.” He also taught me to think about the linkage between things.  I particularly remember a wonderful debate after attempting an S-Level question “Without physics, all other science is just butterfly collecting. Discuss.” Now, you could argue that biology was just butterfly collecting, and chemistry is a bridge between physics and chemistry, but we went further. We thought about maths – the queen and servant of science. We thought about the really abstract bits of maths – before you can say 1+1 = 2 you have to think what is “oneness” and “twoness”.  And finally we thought about how this might link to philosophy, theology and the like.  This finally helped square off in my own mind the nagging doubts that the rational scientist in me should reject religion. It shouldn’t have surprised me to discover he was also a CofE priest – but this wasn’t something he forced down your throat.

Lord, I thank you for all of those who have taught me over the years.  I thank you for the chances I’ve had to learn; I’m sorry for the chances I’ve wasted; I long to learn more and especially to learn more of your love for me. Amen.