I read a lot of books for school. I am a Biblical Ministries major at BIOLA (though I do my schooling online and did so even before the pandemic) so most of my school reading is shorter (100-250 pg.) books rather than gigantic textbook-sized books that you would usually skim through (though I have the occasional one of those).
Some of these books are great. I generally prefer to buy as opposed to rent my schoolbooks (thank you Thriftbooks for the opportunity to do so!) because doing so means that I can have another great Christian textbook on my shelf.
Then again, most of them are one of two things:
Extremely Dull. This is really not the case for most of them. Most of my professors don't choose books that are too out of date or boring but on the rare occasion, you are given a textbook (one that is big and hefty) or an older book that is written with no respect for a college student's attention span. The best way to get your point across is not to state it super directly with no interest, illusions, or personal experience (but rather with a huge list of Bible verses, quotes, and names of God, etc.). The better way to get your point across is to relate it to your audience. Why do they need to know this? What about it is important? When did you learn this? Include illustrations and life experience. Include funny stories and relate the Bible with the occasional Bible story.
Extremely Repetitive: This, I think, is not only more common than the first one but is also more annoying than the first one. I think probably 60-70% of my school books fit into this category. That is to say, in the introduction or first chapter, they state. point very briefly. In the entirety of the rest of the book, they do nothing (or at least very little) to build on that point but instead, just restate the point over and over again until you feel like scratching your eyes out. An example would be a book I just read called Delighting in the Trinity (which really wasn't as bad as some of them can be). In the introduction, the author tells the reader that the Doctrine of the Trinity is the most important doctrine for the Christian faith because it is the only one that only Christians believe and it is the doctrine from which other doctrines stem. He also asserts that the love of God comes from this doctrine. After that, there is very little else that he says in his book that is new assertions on top of what he said in his introduction (aside from an excellent point that he makes regarding gender later in the book).
Teaching to Change Lives is not one of the books that fits into either of those categories. I absolutely loved this book despite it being a read for school. On occasion, we have assignments in the different classes at BIOLA where we are required to read a book and turn in a review of that book. There are no other assignments for the book but the review and thus the assignment usually sneaks up on us giving us only a week or so to read the book. I didn't mind. I read this book in only a few days and wrote the review for class (which was submitted long ago and is, in no way related to this review) easily.
Teaching to Change Lives is split into seven sections describing the methods that the author thinks the reader can put into action to be a better teacher. The methods follow the mnemonic "TEACHER" (the laws of the teacher, education, activity, communication, heart, encouragement, and readiness). I found in reading it that I related to all seven of the laws.
I fully believe that one of the best ways to reach out to students is to first create community. That, in my opinion, is done by
1. Listening to students and making the effort to remember things about them. Does Johnny have a sick father? Pray for him! Is Caroline getting a pony? Ask her about it next week? Does Kate love to write? Well, I do too! I can direct her to the tools that helped me!
2. Participating in events with the students that they enjoy. In my church, this is small things like Nine High and Pit Ball (as well as coloring and board games) as big events like summer camp and nerf dart wars and the American Ninja Warrior gym coming to the church.
Teaching to Change Lives not only touches on that belief but on many of the other beliefs that are central to my belief system. But that is not what makes it really good. What makes it really good is the way that it builds on itself in each chapter. The different laws that the author describes are incredibly unique and separate and yet they also interlock and interconnect. The author shows the reader how important it is to have all seven skills and how different the seven skills are at the same time. At no point did I feel like I was reading the same thing over and over again but the chapters also related.
And the author was relatable and funny as well which was nice.
If you are a teacher or youth leader of any kind, I really recommend picking this book up and having a read. It's a worthwhile read and could just change your life and the lives of your students.