“I recently heard Dr. Walter Brueggemann say that theological educators should follow the same two guidelines that responsible sex educators follow:
- Don’t tell students more than they are ready for or can handle.
- Don’t tell them anything they’ll have to unlearn later on.“
(Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That (emphasis mine))
I read this a few days ago, and this point has stuck with me. I think it really applies to anything you want to learn/teach in life … although perhaps it’s especially important in sex ed. and theology.
I used to have a straightforward algorithm for learning new things: learn everything you have the opportunity to learn. That was quite a lot easier when I was in primary school and opportunities to learn were limited to school / after-school activities (jazz dance, piano) / the school library / the city library. Not that I could’ve read everything in the city library, but I started with the sections I particularly liked, and spread out from there … and I probably did read everything in the school library.
Now … I realise that I have acess to far more than I can learn, probably more than I could learn in a lifetime.
And I’m starting to realise that learning the wrong things at the wrong time can be unwise – either from opportunity cost (what else could you have spent that time learning?) or from lack of context, for example. Choosing what to learn, and what to prioritise learning, is something I’m becoming more and more aware of.
I’m not really sure where I go from here. I guess I look for mentors – either in person, or, for example, favourite authors. Something like that.
What do you think it’s important to learn?