Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Become as a child.....

God loves children, there is not doubt!  Me too!  In Luke 18:17 Jesus says that for us to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become as a child.  There are things I don't like children, though.  In thinking on this, as I teach ESL, I find more and more my students to be the perfect mix of adults and children.  They are children in adult bodies, if you will.  I love that they are new, see things in a fresh way, think in an idealistic way, love to have fun,  and don't mind becoming a little childish in order to learn new things.  They don't always have the "pat" response that I am expecting and often like to shake things up.  Once with two different classes, when they saw the word "throw" and were asked to put the particle with it (that defines what you are going to do - like in, out, away, etc.) they said "throw up."  I found it very funny and we laughed together.  This is something a child would do.  Also, they like to make jokes, even in dark, unusual ways.  For instance, one time, my student made a sentence with hang up (again an excercise on two-part verbs) to say, "My friend hang up himself."  I told him he was into "black comedy".  Of course, first I had to make sure he was kidding - he was!  We laughed together.  We tell them children's stories, we recite phonic poems for children, we use "baby" or "milk" Bible verses.  But it is fun and I love it.  I love that they are independent, thinking adults, but also are children in many ways.  

So, what did Jesus mean?  I think he meant a lot of things, but one thing he might have meant is to be teachable, leadable.  My students are very teachable.  They are sponges looking for the newest "slang", the unknown vocabulary, the cultural things we take for granted.  They love to learn.  And in the right context, kids love to learn too.  Most American adults are too complacent.  They are not looking to learn from those around them.  They think they know it all, that they don't need help.  I find it very refreshing to be around people who are so eager for life and especially learning.  They make my life richer for being in it!  People lately tell me that I light up when I talk about ESL or the students.  I light up because they light up my life a little. They are a very special segment of our society.  I am thankful that God placed this in my heart and life.


kosovacajun said...

Isn't it funny how we have in the English language the word "childlike", which is a good thing, and the word "childish", which is a bad thing?

Rachel said...

I do think there is something about language-learning that is sort of like going back to childhood (because we learned to speak our first language as children.)

For a while I shied away from activities in my classes that I thought were too childish, but I discovered my students actually enjoy playing games, cutting and pasting, etc. I think it's because a lot of them never had a real childhood the first time around, because they were working or their lives were so hard.

I love that you are doing this, and enjoying it so much.