Soon after he began teaching, my friend Ken Woods asked me, “How much time should I spend preparing to teach my lesson?” My answer was on target, as far as it went: “That isn’t really the point, Ken. The point is not what you do at home—it’s what you do in class. We all have busy schedules, so if you can prepare a lesson that will be a “10” in two hours, don’t spend four hours preparing it.” There is no virtue in spending unnecessary time preparing a particular lesson. All things being equal, the less time we spend the better.
That was my answer to Ken, but it didn’t go nearly far enough. The point is not what happens in the teacher’s home in preparation or what happens with the teacher in class in presentation. The point is what happens with the learner. The test of teaching is never what the teacher does; it is what the class members learn.
This is why videos can supplement your lessons: If a thirty-minute video by Chuck Swindoll says it better than you ever could, why not use it? If the student learns, the teacher has taught. I have heard teachers argue, “I just don’t feel fulfilled as a teacher if all I do is punch the play button on a video recorder.” But, you see, the class does not exist so that the teacher can feel fulfilled. The teacher exists so that the class will learn. Who cares that the teacher did not have to spend time preparing the lecture?
Teaching is not about certain gestures or questions or stories or activities. Teaching is not about the teacher at all. Teaching is about people learning. If a video will, in fact, help people learn better than any other method, then it is the method to use, even if it doesn’t make the teacher feel important or fulfilled. Teaching is not about making the teacher feel important. It is about serving a group by leading them to learn.
After several years of meditating on this, I realized a deeper insight: The real point is not even what happens with the learner in class. Teaching is not about people feeling moved in class; it is about people moving when they get out of class. The point is not how high people jump, but how straight they walk when they get down. What happens in class matters, but not as much as what happens in people’s homes, workplaces, lives, and relationships. The point is not that the students feel entertained or interested or stimulated or whatever. The point is—will they live differently Monday morning?