One of the biggest responsibilities I have as a teacher is teaching young people how to behave in a morally acceptable way. Most of us would agree that kids need to learn how to treat others with respect, to be fair at all times, and to be kind to others. It’s been interesting, however, to see how kids respond when you try to teach them these values. They often come up with some very valid questions…
-Why should I treat others with respect?
-Why does it matter that I treat others fairly?
-Why is it so important to be kind to others?
These are questions I get from students, and I must admit, it’s very hard to give them a satisfactory answer without mentioning the name of Jesus.
Telling a student they shouldn’t do something because “it’s not nice,” or that they should do something because “it’s the right thing to do” is just not a good enough answer for lots of kids.
Some kids don’t care if they’re “nice” and some kids don’t care if they do what’s “right” all the time. Besides, who’s to say their version of what’s “right” isn’t “right” after all?
The truth is that students should treat others with respect, with fairness, and with kindness because that’s what God (the One who has determined what IS right) tells us to do.
Below are a couple of examples of this dilemma I’ve been faced with while trying to teach kids moral values without being able to share with them the truth about Jesus….
The other day I noticed one of my students cheating during one of my PE games, so I called him over to have a conversation with him about it. After talking with him about the importance of playing fairly and the reasons we shouldn’t cheat, this kid gave me a very candid statement…
“I don’t care if I cheat or not, I just want to win…”
I didn’t know how to respond! What could I say? This kid clearly didn’t care if he played fairly or not–he just wanted the “glory” that came with saying he won! And without acknowledging God, who’s to say his line of thinking was “wrong” compared to mine? For who am I to tell him what IS and ISN’T right or wrong? I am not worthy to make such a declaration! The only thing I could think to do was to tell him about the One who is worthy…
I wanted to tell him how much God (the One who has declared what is right and wrong) detests lying and deceiving others for one’s own gain. I wanted to tell him that we don’t cheat because God (the One who knows what’s best for everyone) tells us that it’s wrong and that we harm ourselves and others when we do so. I wanted to tell him that we don’t cheat because God (the One who created and loves us all) tells us that it’s in our best interests not to.
That is why we don’t cheat–not because I say it’s wrong, or your parents say it’s wrong, or even your friends. We don’t cheat because God–who has all authority and power–says it’s wrong, and therefore, it’s in our best interests not to do it.
I wanted to tell him the real reason to why we don’t cheat, but I couldn’t…
One day while I was supervising recess, I had a somewhat unpopular and socially awkward student come up to me crying about two kids who wouldn’t include her in a game. After talking with the two kids in question about including others and treating everyone with respect, they responded by saying:
“But coach, we don’t like her! She’s kind of annoying and we’d rather she just leave us alone!”
Once again, I didn’t know what to say! Without being able to talk about God, they were completely in the right to just ignore the kid and tell her to go away! Who cared about how the kid felt? It wasn’t their responsibility to help the girl feel included, appreciated, and liked. As far as the world’s standard was concerned, these girls were completely in the right to rudely ignore the kid and tell her to buzz off.
God’s standard, however, is wholly different, and I wanted to tell them about it. I wanted to tell them we include others because God loves us all and wants everyone to feel loved and appreciated. I wanted to tell them we include others–even when they don’t deserve it, because God first included us–even though we don’t deserve it. I wanted to tell them we include others because God wants us to treat others the way we would want to be treated.
That is why we include others–not because I say it’s right, or your parents say it’s right, or even your friends. We include others because God–who has all authority and power–says it’s right, and therefore, it’s in our best interests to do so.
I wanted to tell them the real reason to why we include others, but I couldn’t…
These are just a couple of instances of times I couldn’t educate my students to the full extent they deserve. For how can I fully teach them morals and values when we as a nation have stripped them of the foundation that our morals and values come from?
I recognize that in a public school we’re supposed to avoid talking about such things, and I’ve been faithful to that which has been ordered of me from higher up in the political ranks.
It’s just so frustrating to see so many kids lacking such crucial knowledge that would effect their lives so much.
Pray that our kids would discover said knowledge despite the world’s best efforts to hide it from them!