When my dad and uncle and I returned from church, my mother asked what we had learned. “It’s OK to drink after 9:00am,” my uncle answered.
In response to my mother’s surprised reaction, the three of us began recounting the six stories Pastor Dan Stoneback told during his sermon; stories that included the events of Pastor John Schleicher’s recent election to a six year term as Bishop.
The story of electing a new Bishop related to the second reading which recounted how, after the apostles were first filled with the Holy Spirit, they had been accused of being drunk while they preached. Peter assured the crowd that, “these [apostles] are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.” (Acts 2:15) Because they followed the scriptures, we learned that Pastor Stoneback and the other congressional representatives to the previous week’s synod retreat had waited until after 9:00am to begin drinking.
After listening to Pastor Dan’s sermon, we concluded that it is Ok to drink after nine o’clock in the morning.
It is obvious that Pastor Stoneback had put a lot of thought into his sermon and he had done a fine job of delivering his text. However, I doubt that what we reported to my mother was the message he intended for us to learn.
Too often, as members of the faculty, we spend more time concentrating on what we are teaching our students instead of considering what our students are actually learning. We deliver a well researched lecture or construct a wonderful assignment and then tell colleagues what we have taught. But how do we know what students actually learned?
If someone asked Pastor Stoneback what the congregation learned as a result of today’s sermon, he would explain that he taught us about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives; a very appropriate message for Pentecostal Sunday. However, without some type of authentic assessment, there is no way to be sure that what is learned is actually what is being taught—either to congregations or students.
Since I first met Pastor Stoneback 14 years ago at the time when my parents joined Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, I have been able to observe him interact with his flock. Therefore, if anyone really learned that it is OK to drink after 9:00am, there would be plenty of opportunities for Pastor Stoneback to meet with them in order to assess their knowledge of scripture and then to correct any misunderstandings.
As teachers, we need to build similar opportunities into our classes; times when we can interact with our students to find out that they are really learning what we are teaching. After all, it would be too bad if they begin drinking after 9:00am; just before they arrive to our mid-morning classes.
- –Steven L. Berg, PhD