Students’ attitudes can have a significant impact on their academic success and spiritual growth. Find out how to encourage your Christian school students towards the right attitudes for learning and being disciplined.
While our God-given abilities control what we are able to do, our attitudes regulate what we do and how well we do it. Nearly every Christian school classroom has students who have the ability to achieve better than they do. Some students do not study well because of rebellion or laziness. Some do well in the subjects they like but perform poorly when a subject is not interesting to them. Others are hindered by discouragement and other mental distractions. A change of attitudes could result in improvement in academic achievement for these students.
Good attitudes should be taught first of all because they are Scriptural. God's Word contains not only commands that give reasons for right attitudes but also promises which students can apply to give them strength. As the Christian teacher helps students develop good attitudes, he has the opportunity to teach righteousness as well as the privilege to guide young Christian students in their faith in God's sufficiency.
In addition to the Scriptural basis for right attitudes, there are practical techniques that can be applied in Christian education. Both teachers and students should use functional methods that foster the desired attitudes.
Here is a short list of five attitudes that are Scriptural and make learning more successful and pleasant:
Learning is interesting and enjoyable; it is valuable and fulfills a purpose.
Everyone prefers to do things that he enjoys doing, and it is difficult to be motivated to work at a task that is perceived as being uninteresting and of little or no value. Unfortunately, some students consider at least some of their school subjects to be boring and useless. Part of the teacher's task and the students' responsibility is to be aware of the value in learning and to make it as pleasant as possible.
Every experience God sends to the Christian has value and purpose. Since "the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" (Psalm 37:23), the Christian student's learning tasks are given to him by God and, therefore, have value. Colossians 3:23 says, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord." The underlying motivation for Christian students should be to do their very best for the Lord because they love Him. Furthermore, they can ask God to help them develop interest and enjoyment in their studying.
God has given all people a natural curiosity, which the teacher can use to spark interest. "Why do you suppose nobody lives on this island?" "Here's my problem. Let's find a solution." Using a problem-solving approach in teaching and learning involves students' curiosity and makes learning more interesting.
Knowing more about a subject tends to make it more interesting. Students can expand their knowledge of a subject by reading good fiction, biographies, magazines, and other materials which are easy and have attractive pictures. Discussion and group activities provide opportunity for students who are enthusiastic about a subject to stimulate the interest of others. An energetic, skillful teacher inspires interest by his attitude and presentation.
Relating a subject to the student's present interests and values is always profitable. Mathematics is applied in sports; styles and social activities are evident in every period of history.
All subject information becomes applicable when the principles behind the facts are taught. Instruction that is based on Bible principles demonstrates the value in all subject areas. The principles of a subject area can be applied to other areas, especially those areas that are more interesting to a student.
Interest or enjoyment is more than just fun. School activities should be pleasant, but the work of learning is not always "fun." Completing a task well, solving a problem, or making a discovery can be as satisfying as playing a game. This satisfaction is possible, however, only when the tasks are on a level at which the students can succeed. Finding satisfaction in worthwhile endeavors is part of the maturing process.
Another part of the maturing process is the realization that some things are learned in school because they will be needed in the future. The teacher can do more than say, "You need to learn this because you will need to know it next year," or "You will use this when you are an adult." He can show how the information is applied.
My mind is open; I am ready to learn from my teachers and classes.
Resistance to learning may be caused by something other than lack of interest or value in a subject. A student may think he knows all he needs to know about a subject, or he may have a negative attitude toward a teacher or the teacher's methods.
Scripture passages admonish us to "hear counsel, and receive instruction" (Proverbs 19:20). Godly instruction includes developing respect for teachers and a willingness to be taught. Attitudes of pride, stubbornness, and rebellion, which cause students to reject instruction, should be dealt with as sin.
When a good relationship exists between teacher and students, the students are more likely to want to learn. The teacher can foster rapport by demonstrating a warm, caring personality. When he presents personal views, they should be given in an inoffensive way. He should know his subject well, be fair and reasonable in his requirements, and use the best teaching methods and materials. His presentation should be given with enthusiasm and without distracting mannerisms. Good teaching encourages students to desire to learn.
Students help to develop a good teacher/pupil relationship when they accept responsibility, do their assignments on time, and participate in class. That good relationship increases when they show enthusiasm for learning or say an occasional thank-you to the teacher.
I expect to succeed in my studies.
According to Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Students who trust God, ask for His help, and thank Him for the successes He sends can expect success. God enables us to do whatever He wants us to do.
Dr. Bob Jones Sr. said, "Success is finding the will of God for your life and doing it." Students sometimes anticipate and experience failure because their goals are wrong and their expectations are unrealistic. Because we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), we know God gave each person the abilities and talents that are right for him. Students need to understand their abilities and set realistic goals when deciding what classes to take and what grades they should expect to make.
God commands us to "do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31) and commends the "good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). Students should be concerned about God's evaluation as well as the grade that is in the teacher's gradebook. Another of Dr. Jones's sayings is, "It's no disgrace to fail; it is a disgrace to do less than your best to keep from failing."
Fear of failure is also curbed by application of practical suggestions, such as concentrate on past successes, not failures. Break large tasks into parts and progress by steps.
It is said that nothing succeeds like success. Teachers help students expect success when they give tasks at which students can succeed.
I am determined and diligent; I work hard.
God instructs us to be "not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11). Laziness should be confessed and dealt with as sin. We must choose to be diligent and ask God for His help.
Because God commands us to work, we know that work is good. Teachers and students should consider schoolwork as valuable and desirable, not as unpleasant toil. Assignments should be given in a positive way. "Here is a problem to solve. See what you think about it." "As you study this chapter, you will learn some exciting facts." Studying is not drudgery for the student who has important goals and sees that his work helps him reach those goals.
Personal and study habits affect diligence. Protecting one's health, being organized, planning one's time, and studying in a conducive environment contribute to productive work.
I trust in God and have peace, contentment, and joy; I don't worry.
Some students have difficulty achieving in line with their abilities because they are contending with distracting problems. Even elementary school children are adversely affected by unpleasant home situations, lack of material needs, relationship with peers, and conviction from God.
Dealing with life's pressures is easier when a person has good physical health. Problems need to be analyzed so they can be understood. Causes for problems as well as practical steps for solutions should be identified. Young people often need help in analyzing and resolving the problems that confront them.
The best source of peace and calmness is a right relationship with God — love Him, submit to Him as supreme, and accept what He sends into our lives. That relationship comes through studying God's Word, praying, and asking for God's help. The Christian should confess worry as a sin and choose to trust God.
Many Scripture passages give instruction and promises concerning peace, contentment, and joy. Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to trust and promises that God will guide. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Philippians 4:4, 6-7, and 11 deal with joy, worry, peace, and contentment. "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
One of the most effective teaching methods is to demonstrate the right example. When these and other right attitudes are manifest in the teacher's life, the students can see as well as hear what is good for them to develop in their lives.
Used with permission from BJU Press.