Sunday, October 22, 2023

How Online Education Fails Us

When by the grace of God I got to Bible college in 1971, I realized that a major benefit of attending Biola was not just truth learned from books but truth taught from life -- from professor to student, teacher to learner, pastor to parishioner. I will never forget being mentored by several men during my time at Biola and Talbot. You've probably never heard their names before, but their memory lives on in my heart forever. These include Lloyd Quast, Curtis Mitchell, Robert Hakes, Nickolas Kurtanek, and Harry Sturz, who headed up the Greek Department at Biola. I ended up dropping out of his beginning Greek class after only 3 weeks, so ill-prepared was I for language study. Then something must have clicked, because 2 years later Harry Sturz hired me to teach Greek at Biola. Here I was, embarking on what would become my career, all because of the interest a mentor had taken in one of his students. 

A highly respected educator once told me, "You can't train a man of God without people of God rubbing up against them. You can never learn to be a good minister of the gospel online any more than you learn to be an excellent surgeon online or a military leader online. You need to be with others who are veterans -- older than you, wiser than you, more experienced than you, with brighter minds and deeper lives." How grateful I am to this day for men like that. I call it "likeness education" based on my favorite verse as a teacher -- Luke 6:40. Nothing -- and I man NOTHING -- can replace it -- people with people, life with life, be they friends or coaches or pastors or peers or teachers or colleagues or neighbors. You can never separate truth from the one who teaches it. I had men like Harry Sturz. What a wonderful man whom I got to know intimately. Who did you have? To this day when I teach Greek, I think of how Harry Sturz taught me and how I subconsciously imitate him. His patience and humility are always before me. He was competent. He was wise. He was kind. He cared about people. He took time with his students. He was everything I wanted to become one day. 

Today, as online education replaces in-person classes, please do not lose sight of the personal dimension of education. Ask the Lord to send a mentor into your life whose example will mold you and make into the person you want to become. He will do so.