Kindergartners…. at Any Age


Although Costa Rica was a pleasant and a calm country, it does not remain in my memory that way.

By: Jenny Jordan Teets

     Beauty is not the thing in question here. It was undoubtedly a beautiful country. That includes the people, the food, the weather and even the language school that we attended. They were all very pleasant. My lack of patience and maturity, however, was beginning to show for what it really was. I needed help in many areas, in spite of the fact that I was a mother of 3 children at that time, 33 years of age, and I was supposed to have owned enough maturity to cope with life. It wasn’t the children that I struggled with. They were my source of inspiration and pride. It wasn’t any struggle with my husband; he was actually in the same boat as I was, with the issue we faced. None of my friends were of a problem nature; in fact, they held me up during the roughest of times. What was it that bothered me so drastically?

Well, the new humbling experience I had was the fact that I had to become as a beginner in the first grade of the Spanish language! I had never dealt with the challenges of a language barrier before, for I had never lived in a foreign country. In the process of getting humbled, I had to learn a new art called patience. When you are faced with learning a foreign language, (or should I say forced?) you truly have to learn patience, flexibility and pliability with yourself.

I have usually been the type of woman who bravely accepts a challenge to do something different, but I would have to admit that I didn’t always count the cost of my endeavors before I tackled them. One of the most important lessons I learned when studying Spanish was that the grammar was only a small part of the equation. The larger part was that I had to humble myself before all of these strangers and become as a kindergartener in a new experience. I would have entitled this little writing as A Kindergartner in Paradise, but sadly, I couldn’t just enjoy the paradise of Costa Rica; I had to buckle down and work at something which was very time-consuming and at times quite dull. Kindergartner in paradise, indeed!

But, let’s broaden the issue here: let’s talk about the fear we feel to undertake new endeavors. Why do we dread learning new things in the first place? Could it be that we know we will have to acquire a different mind-set? Are we nervous about changing our daily routine too much? We stumble around and procrastinate, although we realize that what we will learn may enhance our lives to a great degree. Why are we so hard with ourselves, when confronted with new educational circumstances? I am convinced that a kindergartner has a built-in set of learning principles that we could actually apply to our own learning situations!

There are several basic attitudes which strike me as pretty smart for a kindergartner to hold. First, they must humble themselves to accept the course that is laid out for them. It would be a rare child who would come into a class, and demand that the teacher teach them something about space or aeronautics. One just doesn’t start learning something so far-fetched in a basic class of kindergarten.

Secondly, they must be patient, taking the course a day at a time! Rarely, do we have to tell kids to be patient with themselves. It is not in their general make-up to push themselves too hard. They learn impatience because of a term called competition. Competition is something that many adults practice and teach their children!

Let’s talk about their humility. Humility is not a bad word. When we make the remark that we were humbled by something, we feel as if we were degraded. We only notice the element of humility that made us feel less important or less confident. True, there are cases where we have been humbled without our consent; however, if we truly humble our own selves, there is another aspect involved. When we humble ourselves, we show respect to someone who has the greater rank; be it a school teacher, a pastor, or an official of any kind. Some people are confused when they read Romans 12:10: Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. They seem to think that when you prefer another before yourself, you are lacking in confidence; hence, you think that someone else could do something better than you can. While this may be true, it is not the real meaning of the scripture. It is the modesty factor again! Years ago, it was considered impertinent if an evangelist would call a pastor to ask for a revival. This ethical point was something our fathers understood, for in Proverbs 18: 16: we read, a man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men. A preacher would become known by his brethren and the word of his ministry would get around. He did not have to make his ministry known by his own word of mouth; others would do the commending and recommending for him. To learn humility is to also learn the attitude of modesty. On every hand, in these days particularly, we find people who overwhelm us with their braggadocios attitudes. They may or may not possess the goods that they brag about and it gets very tiring to hear the self-praise and self-aggrandization. Our Lord lived a life of humility. He was God and yet He accepted, graciously, the most humiliating trial a human could endure. His patience with mankind is still truly the most sterling example of humility we have today.

For adults to become as kindergartners in a new endeavor, we must also realize that there is still a lot to learn about a class or a lifetime! If we were to know how many years of school faced us when we were just kindergartners, we would have never wanted to go back into the classroom again. The kindergartner is not caught up in self-depredation, self-pity, self-anything. He is too busy trying to conquer the tasks of reading and writing. His momentary fears can stay just that. A teacher can give him a pat on the back, and he is encouraged once again.

What are we afraid of? The kindergartner may be fearful for a day or even a week, but soon he gets so involved with the class that he overcomes the fear of the unknown. When my husband and I accepted the call to foreign missions, I had many days of fear and fright. However, when I humbled myself to the call, did the work of preparation to leave for a foreign country, (a day at a time) amazingly, I gained certain fortitude in the process. We do not know what the morrow holds for us, but we trust in the One who holds our hand.

Starting a new project with humility should also mean that you will not buy everything in bulk before you try to start something new! Of course, kindergartners have advice about what to put in their backpack for class. We should not try to start a project without some advice either! I have to laugh at my own mistakes when I first began learning the computer. Back in 1991, a preacher came to our house, and showed me some basic steps with the dos program. All those F’7s, and F’1s got tiring though, and most especially, when I took a job where I had to use an old 486 computer. How I ever learned to do mass mailings on that machine was a miracle! However, at home, I moved from one Windows upgrade to another and another! What was comical is that I became a great consumer of diverse software. My son, who now holds a prestigious job with Microsoft in China, used to laugh at me, and tell me to slow down. That software was going to clog up my computer with its bits and pieces all over the hard drive. After a few good crashes, one does learn the hard way to proceed with a bit more wisdom. It really hurts when you have to part with those good old programs that you thought you had to have, not to mention that it was an expensive lesson also. I try to consider it part of my computer education!

That brings me to the last point, after humility and patience; one should always have a teacher, or mentor who will teach us. The humble, child-like attitude of teacher knows more than me, is one of the reasons the kindergartner learns. We all need to learn this lesson! When I sat in college classes a few years ago, I was in awe of the knowledge many of my professors held. One particular history teacher had such a profound memory for the detail of dates, times and places, that it seemed as if she had been a journalist of the period in history. She had taught her subject for so many years, that she didn’t even have to open a book—it flowed from her mind and mouth as if she was the book.

God has chosen the most excellent plan for us to learn about salvation. He chose to utilize a preacher to bring forth His anointed Word to teach us spiritual truths. An anointed preacher is inspired much more than a teacher who possesses an excellent memory; it is God’s unction given to the man of God! The Word reaches to the innermost parts of our soul and can save us from our human condition.

A teacher is essential to good learning. There are many so-called self-taught men, of course, but they might tell you years later, that they learned from a book, or from individuals which carried them through the learning process. Let’s keep learning! Just as we do not want a kindergartener to stay at that basic level of learning for the rest of his life, we should ourselves continue to aspire to knowledge and the wisdom to apply it properly.




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