Words of Worth

“Why Do We Need to Learn This?”

May 3, 2014

when am I everMany a student has asked, and many a teacher has been asked, “When are we ever going to use this stuff?” It’s a fair question coming from students who get frustrated by learning concepts that are too abstract or irrelevant for them to fathom and who most likely will not remember the majority of what is taught to them beyond the final test!

In my early years as a junior high English teacher, many of my students would ask why they needed to learn grammar lessons about subjects, verbs and direct objects. I’d like to remember giving some profound answer like, “Not everything I teach will always make sense to you right away but I will do my best to help you see how you might actually need or use what we’re learning.”  However, I think I said something very teacher-ish or tongue in cheek-ish like, “You need to learn your grammar because some day when you have a child who asks for help and you can’t help because you didn’t learn it, you won’t feel stupid.”

If I could have a do-over, I would now say, “You need to learn your grammar lessons because it will lessen your worries about what you mean to God and how deeply He loves you.”  Take Psalm 23 for instance.  It is so much more than a Psalm to be read at a funeral.  It is a very life giving Psalm.

23 The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 If my junior high students learned how to identify subjects, pronouns, action verbs, direct objects, and prepositional phrases, they would know:

  1. The Lord is the subject of verse 1, and the pronouns “He” and “You”, both referring to the Lord, are the subjects of verses 2, 3, and 5.
  2. The Lord is very busy DOING as indicated by the action verbs: “makes”, “leads”, “restores”, “guides”, “comfort”, “prepare” and “have anointed” (verses 2, 3, 4, and 5).
  3. “Me” is the direct object, the recipient of all that the Lord is doing.
  4. The Lord is doing all of these things for me “in green pastures”, “in paths of righteousness”, “through the valley of the shadow of death”, and “in the presence of my enemies”.

So ask me now, “Why do I need to learn this?” because I will tell you that knowing your grammar lessons, lessens your worries about anything you may need in this life!

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

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