PEDAGOGICAL PRINCIPLES FOR THE TEACHING OF SHEMA

Kure proposed six pedagogical principles in his book; train to teach others; which the writer will like to briefly preview and propose its approach as model for the teaching of shema. This would make teaching result –oriented rather than follow what Freire has rightly characterized as a “banking” model. I will attempt to point out what I see as implications for contemporary Nigerian teachers and pastors. The six principles are 1. Know yourself and your call 2. Know your Bible 3. Know your methods 4. Know your students 5. Know where you are going and 6. Know how to look back.

Application of the first principle –Know yourself and your call

The major command in Deut 6:49 termed shema is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart (v.5). Can anyone love God who has never experienced his love? No, this shows that a teacher that will teach people to love God must experience this love himself or herself, reflect it to the people by his/her own lifestyle of love and commitment. A teacher must be genuinely converted, by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. After this, the teacher must clarify whether or not he or she is called to teach in the Church ministry. In other words, a pastor or teacher must experience two calls. The first is, a call to salvation, Jesus said to his disciples ‘follow me’ and ‘I will make you fishers of men’. (Mark.1:17).  A person, who does not follow, cannot be trained or be discipled. The phrase ‘I will make’ you means two things according to Kure (2000,  24 &25)  “It implies call to service, and, it implies training.” Secondly, their response to God is a reflection of the love they have for Him and this is shown by putting in their hearts what God commanded them to do. Again teachers who have never experienced God’s love resulting in their obedience to Him will find it difficult retaining God’s words in their hearts and consequently cannot truly teach others to do so. This is not to promote memorization; rather, it is a deliberate making of God’s words a part of their lives. Psalm 119:11 says “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.” To validate the on-going discussion Kure said:

Any effort or desire to teach must begin with the teacher himself. Many people who are teaching in the church today were asked by the church to teach. But individually, they do not have an inner call. They do not feel convinced that this is what the Lord wants them to do Kure, (2000, 25).

The second Principle-Know your Bible

The Pastor who teaches God’s word must know the Bible. You cannot teach a subject to which you are a foreigner. What the teacher knows about the Bible will determine how he or she will handle it. It is of great importance that the teacher knows that the world of God is infallible and that it has the final authority on the  matter of faith and doctrine. Then he can faithfully teach what the shema is with confidence.

The Bible: soft OT commentary divides the shema into three; these are confession, commandment and communication.

Confession v.4

The orthodox Jewish confession of faith is called “the Shema” after the Hebrew word which means “to hear.” This confession is still recited each morning and evening by devout Jews all over the world, affirming “Jehovah, our Elohim, Jehovah  is one.” (See Matt 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-30; Luke 10:27.) So important is this confession that Jewish boys in orthodox homes are required to memorize it as soon as they can speak. The nations around Israel worshiped many gods and goddesses, but Israel affirmed to all that there is but one true and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Wiesbe, Commentary).

 

The above implies teaching the oneness or the uniqueness of God. Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad—“Hear, O Israel: The lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 http://jvmi.co.uk/media/publications/articles/yeshua-and-the-shema.html).

Teachers must be sure that they do not doubt this otherwise their teachings will produce doubters. The word “one” (ehad) means a unity as well as “Numerical oneness” this is similar to its use in Genesis 2:24 where it is written “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother …and  they will become one flesh. Similarly in Exodus 26:6 and 11 it was used to describe the “unity” of the Tabernacle curtains (The Bible exposition commentary OT). It also means uniqueness of Jehovah the God of Israel, never to be compared with other gods of the gentiles around them, whenever they do; they fail in their confession of faith. Husband and wife are individuals, yet the Bible says they become one.

Commandment v.5

To love and be loved is a matter of the will, and it is a choice as far as the Scripture is concerned verse 5 reveals that they were commanded to love God. To love God is part of man’s desire but it is also commanded because man’s love for God is both conscious and unconscious (Ney, 1974, 121). God’s command to love was a way to help individual relate with their neighbour. Therefore, a teacher who loves God will find it easy loving not only the students but all God’s creation. “To love God and worship and serve Him is the highest privilege we can have” (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament Bible soft).  The essence of God’s command of human to love is to give them opportunity and privilege they may never have otherwise. God does not value half-hearted love from His creation. The love must be total; it must be with all of the heart, soul and strength.

Communication vs. 6-9

When we hear the Word of God and receive it into our hearts (1 Thess 2:13), then the Holy Spirit can use the truth to transform us from within (2 Cor 3:1-3; John 17:17). God “writes” the Word upon our hearts and we become “living epistles” that others may read, and our lives can influence them to trust Christ (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament Bible soft).

The truth in the above statement is that the teacher must also receive the word, swallow it, and ruminate on it such that it is reflected in his or her heart. It will be evident to the children or the students to be ‘caught.’ Children learn more through imitation than what is spelt out for them to recount or reproduce; as it is with parents to children, same way with teacher to students. The present writer learnt this from one of her teachers in a Baptist Boarding High school, which she attended some years back. The teacher told her and her colleagues “in loco parentis” This is a legal expression in Latin meaning, “we are your local parents.” As the children see and learn from the lives of the parents or teachers, they tried to have God’s word in their hearts and life in daily affairs. In other words the way a teacher lives communicates positively or negatively the love and word of God. The educators will call this the hidden curriculum

Third Principle- Know your Method

The method of presenting the content is very much important and it could make or mar the product of education. Therefore, Kure advised that the teacher must painstakingly consider their methods for ultimate results. What is method? It is the process, scheme, manner, way, technique; approach, of acquiring and/or disseminating information. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines method as “a systematic plan followed in presenting material for instruction.” (p 732).  But much more than this Kure considered methods as more comprehensive because it involves different types of methods  which take into consideration not only the lesson plans for instruction presentation but also as including “a systematic development of relevant curriculum, teaching materials, and programme activities.”(Kure, 2000, 40).The implication of this according to Him is that whatever  method of teaching a teacher chooses is rooted in the curriculum, the teaching materials, the medium to be used, programme activities and the classroom or the place where the instruction is to take place.

For this work the curriculum is found in the shema as listed under the content the process the goal. The content has been broken down into confession, commandment and communication. The teacher or the pedagogue is now left with the blending of his or her skills to further break down the curriculum to manageable units taken into consideration the age or maturity of the students in the classroom or under the tutelage of the teacher. For the Israelites, the curriculum must be taught to the adults which included the parents, the priests and the prophets, secondly, the children who must learn first at the feet of their parents until the age of six when they enter”Bet ha- sefer” the primary School where children under 13 years went to learn the scriptures and Bet -ha-midrash” house of study for adults.” Buconyori, (1993,29). The curriculum can be designed to take care of new believers, the growing Christians and the workers.