Someone has said that if you put the world’s best teacher in a room with the world’s worst students, very little learning would take place.
I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that a willing and capable pupil is necessary to the process of learning. For years we have known that you cannot stop a determined student from learning. The necessity of a capable teacher is not denied, but there is also the need for a capable, motivated pupil.
The Necessity of “Good Soil”
Jesus told a parable about a sower who went out to plant seed. Both sower and seed were good, but some of the soil into which the seed was sown was poor soil. The result: neither harvest nor learning could take place. Read Luke 8:4-15. Jesus taught that there must be good “seed” and good “soil,” good teaching and a good pupil. Subtract either one and learning will be greatly diminished.
The same is true in the classroom. A professor once told a room full of graduate students: “Teaching does not take place until learning takes place.” If his statement is true— and to a great degree, I believe it is—both student and teacher must come together for the best learning situation. Who is the ideal student? What qualities does the ideal pupil possess?
Ignorance and Recognition of It
One first has to recognize his lack of knowledge, his need to learn. If he/she does not, learning is very unlikely. Henry David Thoreau said: “It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.” As a boy, I was told, “If you think your bucket’s already full, you won’t be trying to fill it up.” An ideal student is one who is aware of—and willing to admit—how much he/she needs to learn. That is the first step to learning.
Desire, Willingness to Learn
Ancient learners had none of the “essentials” of learning available today, but they had the desire to learn. The great accomplishments of the Greek culture were achieved long before computers and projectors were introduced. We think of Lincoln studying before an open fire. A determined student can learn from anyone under most any circumstance, but he/she will always need a “shovel,” one that will be used to help “dig” out the needed information. A motivated pupil will learn, but without that motivation, the finest of teachers cannot succeed.
The Conviction to Test All Information, Then Act Upon It
Most working receptacles need a filter to assure the security of the unit. Just fail to change the filters on your air-conditioner and see what happens. So it is with learning. A pupil who receives information indiscriminately will eventually receive false information. If proper convictions are absent the student is vulnerable to the most dangerous ploys of unethical (not to mention unbiblical) practices.
Even then, there is left a very significant part of this whole procedure. An ideal student will, when finding accurate information, act upon that information lest it be wasted or lost. If that which is learned is worth achieving, it is valuable enough to continue to learn as much as is your capacity to learn. When a person ceases to learn, he diminishes his value to himself, his family and his community.
Share Knowledge with Others
We would consider a person to be selfish who has that which can be of benefit to others, yet withholds it. Even more so when that knowledge is crucial to the souls of others who desire to have the “hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2, 3:7). The scriptures tell us, “He who wins souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30), and that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). A good student cannot be selfish with what he has learned from God’s wonderful Word. Knowing it demands that we share it.
Therefore, the ideal student will:
- realize their need to learn.
- possess a strong motive to learn.
- be wise enough to put to the test what has been learned, then act upon it accordingly.
- be willing to share that information with others who desire and need it.
We need more students of God’s Word—students who love the souls of lost men and women, and who will gain the information needed and then impart it to the lost. Are you one of them?