Relationships: Student and Teacher (etc)

Posted by Liz Perraud at

Yesterday I wrote on the first of two recent reports I’d heard on the importance of relationships. That one was from Search Institute about helping to influence the quality of family relationships. Read that article here.

The second report was one I heard on NPR about a study from Germany measuring how well and how quickly kindergartners solve pattern recognition problems. The research showed that when a picture of a “liked” teacher was (quickly) interspersed with the other puzzle solving pictures, the students solved problems faster than students who didn’t see pictures of a “liked” teacher.

One of the conclusions reached was that when confronted with something difficult, it helps to know that a “sympathetic figure” is there and so the relationship between the student and the teacher makes a difference in the student’s performance.

The social science commentator noted, “When we talk about education policy and reform, we often start by talking about what's in the curriculum and what's in the textbook instead of focusing on the relationship between student and teacher because that's where learning might actually begin.”

This report got me thinking about two concepts that GenOn teaches.

  • The teacher IS the curriculum. We’re committed to excellent curriculum in the classroom for Bible study but a good relationship between the teacher and the student makes all the difference for learning—including classroom behavior. Even the best curriculum will not override a teacher who (explicitly or implicitly) doesn’t care about his or her students. And it doesn’t take much for a student to figure that out. This applies not just to the classroom but also for choir, recreation, a shared meal, mission work, prayer group…you name it. And for any age. So it’s critical when finding an adult to work with children or youth, that an intentional process of calling someone to serve is used. Invite someone to lead who loves young people and understands the importance of building relationships.
  • A good relationship allows people to take risks, try new things, and dive deeper into relationships. Healthy relationships are at the core of Kingdom of God living where we love one another because of God’s love for each of us. We see one another through “God’s eyes” and not our own. We treat one another (ALL one anothers) as children of God because no one has the right to be treated as if they do not matter. So we educate adults to understand that building relationships is a process where we create an atmosphere for people (especially young people) to take risks and exhibit vulnerability. Risk-taking and vulnerability leads to deeper trust and greater commitment. And therefore, healthy relationships.

Here are a few resources that can help:

Podcasts: Identifying Needs and Calling Volunteers; Involving Adults in LOGOS; What’s it all About?; Seeking Peace in Your Sunday School Classroom

Video: Living by God’s Design

Curriculum: Theograms: Christian Relationships (Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Youth)

LOGOS User Guide: Discipline

Church leaders need to be intentional about modeling and teaching healthy relationships. This starts with adults but even the very youngest of children can learn what this means and how to practice this kind of living.

GenOn Ministries would love to bring this kind of teaching to your church as a workshop, teacher training day, or whatever works for you. Call us at 877.937.2572.


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  • Right on – relationships, relationships, relationships. When there is a true relationship between two people all sorts of wonderful things happen – growth through sharing, supporting, encouraging, learning, sense of being loved and valued – and we all can benefit from these relationships, and grow into what God has planned for us I really like the phrase, “the teacher is the curriculum,” how true it is. And ideally we all have many “teachers” in our lives that can make our, and theirs, lives richer.

    Ed Carlson on

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