Turning to more personal aspects of “tuned-in” teaching, I believe that the intellectual love affair requires the same kind of openness and self-revelation that a good marriage requires, though of course to a lesser degree. I believe that the teacher who is “with it” in the seventies will admit human frailty to his intensely personalistic students. I don’t mean that he will turn his classroom into a confessional, of course; but he will admit his errors and weaknesses wherever they impinge upon the classroom. Certainly he will correct any informational errors or personal misjudgments that he discovers after making them, and should in most cases apologize publicly for them. Nothing elicits the renewing power to apologize and repent like apology and repentence; and I believe that in the seventies young people will expect ever-increasing candidness about our common humanity.

Furthermore, I hope that the seventies will see the demise of the myth of objectivity so popular in secular classrooms, and in some Christian schools as well—the cult of presenting all ideas in a non-committal fashion with the advice that the student should then take his choice. Students are sick of uninvolved adults, and I believe they will turn off teachers who seem too lazy to choose among variant points of view. It is honest for me to identify precisely what my viewpoint is, with the important understanding that there is certainly no penalty for disagreement. It is not honest for me to pretend academic objectivity while I am subtly slanting the material in favor of the Christian world view or conservative politics or whatever. (Whether I am slanting the material consciously or unconsciously really isn’t the point.) The fact is that no one except a zombie could be truly objective, and honesty requires the precise identification of the point from which I am describing reality, since my vantage point will radically affect my description. In other words, I believe that the professor should profess and that the teacher should identify the window from which he views the world. Perhaps through love of the teacher, students will consider reality from his point of view and will even come to see things as he does; but even if they continue to disagree violently, his firm profession will make dialogue possible. No meaningful conversation can be held if nobody will take a stand.

In an unpublished paper on “The Concept of Authenticity,” Professor John Pageler of Wheaton College comments that as opposed to hedonistic boredom or speculative non-committal, “subjectivity demands involvement, concern, staking your existence.” It is this concern about total reality and immersion in it that modern students want to see in their teachers, not a dishwater objectivity. On the other hand, they also legitimately expect teachers to “keep their cool”—which is perhaps another way of asking that the classroom be preserved from proselytizing.

Please understand that by advocating subjectivity I am not advocating the presentation of only the teacher’s point of view. It is of course necessary that thoughtful consideration be given to many possibilities where many exist. It is also necessary that teachers resist the temptation to libel by label; for to label a point of view as “new morality” or “liberal” or “right wing” is not to deal with it, even though some students can be deceived into thinking so.

In this connection, I was interested to notice in recent advertisements of the Anchor Bible the following statement: “It is the first translation in history which concerns itself exclusively with what the Bible says, and not with a sectarian interpretation of what it means.… The distinguished general editors … have chosen contributors on the premise that scholarly integrity transcends religious differences.” It is that last phrase which arrested my attention: Scholarly integrity transcends religious differences. So it does—or so it should. Scholarly integrity requires that we handle truth respectfully and humbly, no matter what its source. Though the devil himself speak some bit of truth, as a Christian and a scholar I am committed to the grateful acceptance of that truth, even as I reject the context in which I found it. Scholarly integrity is admittedly more difficult to those who are passionately subjective and involved than it is for the polite hedonist or the non-committal speculator in ideas. But it is not impossible, as some educators claim. It is not impossible; it is simply difficult. The more serious I am about reality, the more I have to remind myself that when I recognize some aspect of truth in the words of my bitterest opponents, I must concede that truth. I must not refuse to see it in order to defend the investments of my own ego; I must remember that even from my enemies, “All truth is God’s truth.”

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I am not, then, asking that teachers devote thoughtful classroom consideration exclusively to the viewpoints they personally accept. But I am asking—and I think that the students of the seventies will be asking—that in the course of presenting many points of view the teacher identify his own without equivocation, explaining why he accepts the one and rejects the others.

Some teachers will hesitate to make open profession of their personal ideas because of the danger that students will simply imitate, accepting (or pretending to accept) whatever they know to be the views of the teacher. I doubt that this will be much of a problem with the fiercely moral breed of students we will be facing in the seventies. Even if it is, such a tendency will create less of a problem than would our projection of an image of intellectual slackness. But I believe that as our classrooms become suffused with love and mutual respect for the individuality of every person, both present and absent, dead or alive, our students will begin to trust us with their honest thoughts.

If we consider the educational systems today’s young people are growing up in, many of them rewarding conformity and the servile echoing of the teacher or the textbook, we must recognize what a compliment it is when the student drops his mask of servility and begins to make attempts to communicate matters of real significance to himself. These communications are often disruptive and very unpredictable. But anyone who prefers his students to maintain an anonymous servility because he must protect himself from the discomfort of honest questioning should give up and leave the profession.

Perhaps some people would like to challenge my assumption that students of the seventies are going to be fiercely moral. Isn’t this the day of the moral revolution, of nudity and sexual permissiveness? Yes; but I frankly doubt that, person for person, sexual behavior is much worse now than it ever was, although it is certainly more open. The thing that is radically different is the increased brooding about personal responsibility, both in sex and in every other relationship of life, and especially the sense of corporate sin, the concern about social problems such as racial injustice, poverty, and war. As Myron Bloy has said, the student counter-culture has broken with “the individualistic, rationalistic, skeptical tradition of the last 300 years in favor of a communal, personalist, ‘committed’ life-style.… Its members assume that ‘truth’ is finally unitive (albeit mysterious) and alive … and that only moral engagement is responsive to its essential sentience” (“Alienated Youth, Their Counter Culture, and the Chaplain,” The Church Review, Nov., 1968, p. 12). These are great days to be alive and teaching!

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Consider the fact that the recent movie most popular among teen-agers is Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. Until I saw this film I assumed that its popularity was based upon sensational, explicit love scenes, but I was mistaken. The film is gloriously beautiful, exceedingly tasteful, and imbued with a profound sense of social responsibility. The adult Montagues and Capulets have through the years allowed an old feud to claim many young lives; only the love-death of Romeo and Juliet puts an end to the meaningless violence.

The production would have rejoiced the heart of Shakespeare. It is authentically his play, filmed with the gorgeousness of Vermeer and Rembrandt, but interpreted so that it emphasizes the passionate commitment of the young in the late sixties. It is also played to emphasize the generation gap. When the old nurse counsels Juliet to betray her banished husband Romeo and marry Paris because this would be the easiest and most expedient thing to do, Juliet’s eyes gradually draw inward in shock and rejection. “You have comforted me marvellous much,” Juliet murmurs, vowing inwardly never to trust the old nurse again. Had the nurse been faithful to Romeo and Juliet, whose marriage she had furthered, it is very probable that with her help the young people would have survived. In other words, had the older generation been faithful to its moral commitments, the young would have been spared.

I do not believe that teen-agers are flocking to Romeo and Juliet for the easy triumph of blaming their elders for all the ills of the world. (After all, it is the hot-tempered young Tybalt who keeps the flames of discord stirred up.) Rather, I believe that many young people are at least vaguely aware that they are soon going to be adults and that moral issues must be faced at all ages. As a matter of fact, last year I asked two of my writing classes to express their gripes about my generation. Out of some sixty writers, only one blamed the generation gap on the elders. All the rest either shared the blame equally or took most of it upon themselves—surely a significant reaction.

To return to Romeo and Juliet: I think it is a hopeful sign that young people are so powerfully drawn to a film with the aesthetic and spiritual stature of this one. I also think that if we tune in to what all this tells us, we will hear that we had better exert an emotional as well as an intellectual influence in the classrooms of the seventies. We had better be ready to face the moral issues that are raised by the subjects we teach.

Jules Henry, a sociology professor from Washington University, ran a study of textbooks published in the sixties (“Education for Stupidity,” New York Review of Books, May 9, 1968, pp. 20–26). He discovered that “by leaving out and distorting information, textbooks strive for the goal of stupidity.” Among other harrowing examples, he cites the treatment of the atomic bomb in a selection of high-school history texts found in the Washington University library: there was either no mention at all of the casualties, or no admission that most of them were women and children; there was no mention of the fact that Japan was suing for peace long before the bombs were dropped. One even went so far as to say that the bombs were dropped only because the Japanese had turned deaf ears to President Truman’s attempts to make peace.

It would be inappropriate here to argue about Truman’s actions, or about the current war, or about domestic issues like the system of welfare; but I do believe that when such subjects arise in the classroom, the sidestepping of moral issues must cease. I believe that the fiercely moral students of the seventies will have nothing but scorn for the teacher who can speak about any form of injustice without manifesting a sense of sin and responsible concern.

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It is at this point that the challenge for evangelicals becomes most acute. We must demonstrate by our participation that we are really the devotees of “pure religion and undefiled”—that we “keep ourselves unspotted from the world” by doing genuine battle with the mark of worldliness, which is egocentricity; and that we “visit the fatherless and widows” by doing everything we can for the contemporary underdog. Currently this means that, among other things, we must do our utmost to help the Negro and the Indian gain a respected place in the American community. Only thus can we demonstrate to our students and to the world at large that evangelical commitment does not mean social irresponsibility.

On the other hand, we face a challenge from the unbelieving student of the seventies, a challenge to show him that his sense of corporate sin should turn him to Christ, that he cannot expiate his guilt simply by teaching in ghetto schools or joining the Peace Corps, that his good works should come as companion to personal redemption rather than as a substitute for it (see Jan J. van Capelleveen, “A Theology for Today’s Youth,” Christianity Today, Aug. 22, 1969, pp. 11–13). But I believe that to talk about personal guilt to the exclusion of social, corporate guilt will only alienate the students of the seventies, will only confirm in them the widespread belief that evangelicals couldn’t care less about the tangible agonies of the twentieth century.

An area in which evangelical education has lagged behind academia at large is that of granting students serious responsibility for school planning and management. I believe and I hope that the students of the seventies will win greater responsibility for shaping curricula and for disciplining their own lives. I hope that Christian schools will work toward granting self-determination for individual students as they demonstrate the maturity to make their own inner-directed moral choices. For instance, I believe that class attendance requirements should be dropped for those students whose academic achievement demonstrates responsible effort, and that mature students should participate in many faculty and administrative committees, especially those pertaining to student regulations. I believe that concerned Christian teachers of the seventies should be active in seeking these goals.

Psychologist Carl Rogers rightly claims that only self-discovered, self-appropriated learning significantly influences behavior. At first glance, this concept makes a teacher feel unnecessary, and indeed some educators have interpreted it to mean that lectures and tests and conventional classrooms are totally worthless. But they are forgetting that one of the best primary sources for the student to use in self-appropriation and self-discovery is the personality of the teacher. Because we are primary sources for our students to study, what we are is far more important than what we say. Our love for our subject, for our students, for God, and for the world he created is the spark that may ignite similar love in our students.

Geoffrey Chaucer concludes his description of a medieval scholar with the deceptively obvious praise, “And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.” The praise is deceptively obvious because in reality there are many people who are willing to learn without teaching, and many people who are willing to teach without learning; but there are relatively few who are willing first to learn, and then to teach. In the seventies, I believe, the learning must be twofold. First, we must continue and renew our lifelong study of our subject areas as they revolve around Christ and reveal to us new facets of his glory. But secondly, and of equal importance, we must add to that study a newly intensified concentration on our students and what they are trying to tell us. We must put aside our selfishness, and must listen deliberately and often intuitively to their actions, the music they sing, and the words they speak, and must construct classes, texts, and research projects in order to reveal and develop maximum student potential. First we must listen, to learn what the vital issues are; then we must relate our knowledge to those issues. Gladly we must learn, and gladly teach.

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