Good teachers motivate students with big ideas. They take Bloom’s Taxonomy and its learning domains to heart and usher their students to higher-order thinking as quickly as possible. They trust their students will gather basic knowledge on the journey. Boring teachers lose students by always mucking around in low-level recall of facts and terms. But today, the details and definitions are one click away. Even a highly technical skill like writing computer code is only meaningful if it serves a big idea like helping people learn. Students show they have learned by coming up with big ideas of their own.
This was the constant rub between Rabbi Jesus and the boring rabbis. The boring rabbis always wanted to engage Jesus in an intellectual duel at the lowest levels. “Is it legal for your students to shuck corn on the Sabbath?” Jesus responded with a big idea: “‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ . . . For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:7,8). Jesus is as big as it gets. He is the Lord of everything and the embodiment of God’s love for people who will never fully grasp it. But every thought we have that is captive to that idea will be better for it.
After I gave an assignment to a college class, a modest young man asked me, “When we write for you, do we have to use lots of big words?” I told him, “I don’t care about the size of your words. I care about the size of your ideas.” Thank you, Jesus.