Ah this is more like it. It’s a Tuesday. It’s late night. I’ve ministered to the wife’s needs and heard her day. I’ve had the day at work and the evening at the session and I’m ready to write.
We learnt a fair amount of stuff today in the session, legislation, communication and the importance of referral systems to support the learner in their holistic approach to effective learning. Among other things we learnt today was the importance of setting ground rules with the learners in our given class. As we discussed some of the things to be stated in any set of ground rules I found it intriguing how much for granted people took their own values, almost as though their own values should naturally be followed by others just because it’s the standards of their day. What’s also fascinating is how on the one side imposing views and beliefs on others is a bad thing, but in actuality that’s what teaching seeks to do by one means or another. Nothing is rigorously challenged about those beliefs and they are taken on face value. What lies beneath however, is often something that appeals to an objective authority. It is as if it is good because it was good for me and my parents and the upbringing I had.
Ground rules, however are important in any given venture. A certain understanding of the guidelines and necessary boundaries to experience the best of what’s available can only be a good thing. The alternative of feeling anything goes and finding out it’s hugely detrimental effects can make any venture fraught with danger after danger. Ground rules are cool, ground rules are important. In the sense of being with a group of learners who you want to empower in their understanding and overall development sharing the experience and having ownership of the making of the ground rules can only be a good thing.
As I thought further on the subject I looked at it in the light of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. In a very real way these can be considered the ground rules for access to the Kingdom of Heaven and His ability to teach them obviously left his listeners amazed at the level of authority with which He spoke. When you read it out – not as if you’re reading a menu, but as if you’re reading someone teaching – when you read it that way it is quite something to see how connected it all is and how challenging these ground rules are. Imagine being told that the way is going to be hard, imagine being told that only a few would ever find it – that doesn’t exactly sound like an inclusive deal does it. That doesn’t sound all-embracing really. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making out that Jesus had an agenda that fell neatly into a right-wing version of heaven brought about by as many wars and offensive behaviours as possible. I’m definitely not making out that Jesus was applauding those with a mentality to completely opt out of the world as we know it and live in communes and enclaves and even worst Christian ghettos where we have Christianised versions of world products and lifestyle.
What I am suggesting, back to my desire about wanting to teach people who want to be taught, in as much as I want what I teach to be accessible to people of different backgrounds and style, there is actually something about the content and it’s challenge that not everyone will live up to or want. Them are just the ground rules.
For His Name's Sake