Why you should never put 43 boys in one classroom…but I did anyway

Put 43 ninth grade boys in one normal-size classroom.  Guess what you get? Chaos.  Absolute chaos.  No educator would ever recommend it.  It’s a sure prescription for disaster.  But that’s what we decided to do this week in the freshman Bible class at school.

The topic scheduled this week was sex.  I gathered all 43 of them together with three other male teachers.  I didn’t lecture.  I didn’t preach.  I didn’t warn.  What I decided to do was to surprise them.  And as I did, they became quiet, so quiet in fact that the room settled into a tense stillness.  A weighty stillness.  A stillness lasted for the next twenty-five minutes.  It’s almost like I had hit both the pause and the mute buttons on each of them.

What did I do for those twenty-five minutes?  I just told my story.

Every man has a story of sexual brokenness.  So I just told a bit of mine during that time when I was their age, both my sexual and relational struggles.  All pretty normal stuff. But what was not normal was how they received it.  Quietly.  Attentively.

We repeated the same thing the next day, only this time with panel of juniors and seniors at the school.  As they fielded questions about this same topic, they too told parts of their own story.  And again it was the same stillness amongst the 43 freshman.

After one of the large group sessions, I was left with my own small group.  And I asked them, “What was it like to hear this?”  Here were some of the comments:

  • “It’s good to know that I’m not alone.”
  • “It took real guts for those upperclassmen to tell us that stuff.”
  • “Coach, I can relate to you.  You’re not some old person that once traveled in a buggy!” (I loved that comment!)

And then it hit me.  The generation gap.  The only gap is one that fear creates.  Fear of shame, rejection, and failure.  Telling our story to a younger generation bridges the gap in a stunning way, in a way that surprises and heals.  It’s magic when a 14 year old can relate to me, a 54 year old.  It’s beautiful.  It’s life.

Besides the story of Jesus, the most powerful story you can tell the next generation is your own.

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About Coach D

I have been a teacher and a coach for many years. My real name is Bill Delvaux, but my students call me Coach D, hence the user name. This blog is about the journey into the unknown I am walking and the landmarks I am navigating along the way. The destination: becoming who I really am as a man. I invite you to join me by reading along every Monday and Thursday.
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6 Responses to Why you should never put 43 boys in one classroom…but I did anyway

  1. Wow Bill. A powerful time. Would loved to have been a fly on the wall. It is amazing how attentive freshmen can be when listening to relevant information. I wish more of their education could be like that.

    • Coach D says:

      Vince,
      I am always amazed at how story-telling breaks boundaries at multiple levels. You know what I mean after being in a story group yourself! I also had a great time with my freshmen boys today!

  2. Jessie Rucker says:

    Thanks for being real! That has helped you as a teacher, coach, writer and will help in your ministry! You have planted many seeds in the Kingdom of God!

    • Coach D says:

      Jessie,
      Thank you. I have had fun talking to both Will and Ben recently. It’s fun to watch them grow and mature as young men. I’m sure you know what I mean!

  3. James Gilman says:

    So encouraging to hear! It’s amazing to see the power of honesty and vulnerability–especially in connecting as men. This is something I am growing in. One of the ways we overcome is by the word of our testimony (Rev 12:11).

    • Coach D says:

      James,
      I also have come to believe that in a postmodern world the one hook we have left is story-telling. Hearing conceptual ideas about the gospel right at first can fall on so much deafness. Telling the story of the gospel in a fresh way, but more importantly telling our own story honestly, can at least stir others to listen. I am so convinced of this if we are ever going to reach those who are far from the influence and language of Christianity. And that tribe is growing, at least here in America.

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