By Roy W. Lowrie, Jr.
The Christian Teacher (1959)
Was your heart touched by the disastrous school fire in Chicago? What if it had been our school, my class, my children? Yet our Christian Schools may smolder or blaze with fires ignited by the untamed tongue. The fire may be kindled in the P.T.A., mother’s club, faculty, administration, board. Or just in a casual telephone conversation.
Some fires, especially in the coal regions, burn a long time underground. And some fires kindled by the tongue are long burning, perhaps for years. The lack of immediate crisis does not remove the dangers of such fires. Foundations are being weakened all the while, and some day the structure above surface may collapse. God forbid that we should ever adjust ourselves to live with this fire problem since it displeases Him.
Teacher-parent problems or questions continuously arise, even in a smoothly-functioning school. The person or family with problems and questions must go directly to the other person or family involved instead of stirring the fire up by talking with other people who are not involved. What we think is true may not be accurate. (Especially if our information comes from children.) Isolated reports of incidents or situations are frequently garbled and untrustworthy. Personal bias may color the problem. There is no substitute for a direct face-to-face conference. Telephone calls and letters are inferior to personal contact. (As someone has said, a letter doesn’t smile – nor does a telephone.)
When we teachers have made a mistake, we must admit it and make the proper amends. Our authority as teachers does not immunize us against error or offense.
Everyone in the school family will not agree on the way various situations are handled. Here we must seek God’s wisdom, be under the authority of the administration, and agree to disagree with some people. There can be some variety in unity if hard feelings do not develop. The real test of relationships is found in our attitudes toward those who disagree with us in working out school problems.
The teacher’s knowledge of family situations is a trust which may not be shared with everyone. In some cases information should not be shared with anyone but God. In such instances the teacher’s professional ethics cannot be lower than those of doctors and lawyers.
Revealing situations in informal conversations, faculty or committee meetings spreads gasoline upon the fire. We teachers must exercise restraint and caution in discussing children with people other than their own parents.
We must be forthright and honest in analyzing school situations. Truth is not to be suppressed or adjusted for comfort. Our schools displease God if we permit deteriorating situations to exist because of respect for those involved and fear of the consequences if proper action is taken. Should we allow ourselves to be pressured into favoritism or tolerance of that which is wrong? When a situation arises which requires a forthright approach, care must be exercised that we follow the Biblical pattern in dealing with the person involved, not a carnal approach through friends on the board or a gossip relay to others.
When we teachers are questioned about our procedures we must not take a fighting stance. Valid criticism from parents is to be accepted and acted upon. Although we are teachers by profession, we should constantly be taught of God and therefore must be quick learners regardless of the source of His lesson. When criticized unfairly or untruly, we must commit the matter to our Master before whom we stand or fall. God lifts up our head. The man or woman who follows Christ’s example is not quick to defend himself.
Teacher-parent relationships may be broken psychologically as well as in more obvious outward ways. Our heart attitudes toward one another are not always truthfully portrayed by our actions. Before God we must make certain that our heart is right toward Him and toward one another.
As members of His body, we remember that our actions and thoughts toward one another affect our Divine Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. We become sensitive to people, to proper relationships as we live in fellowship with Christ. The evidence of such fellowship is our love for one another.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Last updated by Lisa Lanpher Feb 5, 2013.