The Value of Observation

The preparation required in teaching cannot all be obtained from books.  As valuable as book knowledge is, it is not the only knowledge.  It is certainly not all a Sunday school teacher needs.

His preparation must be going on in the world as well as in his study.  He must watch the incidents of every day, and see what use he can make of them in his class.  If he has an open eye and a loving heart, he will be able to learn a great deal by observation - the nature of childhood, its dangers, its wants, and the teaching that is best suited for it.

He will be constantly be watching incidents and events, and planning how to use these as part of his instruction in the classroom.  Often, as teachers, we don't think of this.  A teacher should keep his eye out for:
  • Circumstances that happen to him
  • Incidents in daily life
  • Successes or failures
  • Misfortunes or blessings
Each of these situations has its own special significance, and can be used to teach useful lessons.  If we only had eyes to see and hearts to receive it, we could perceive that the history of each day's experience can illustrate a spiritual truth.  Consider the experience of each day.  Watch the lessons it teaches, the warnings that it brings, and bring that lesson into the Sunday teaching.  If we don't, we may lose a great opportunity of usefulness, and throw away a wonderful tool for obtaining attention.

Adapted from "The Art of Teaching," by Joshua Fitch