Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Handout (04/14/11)
TITLE: Another One
By Sandy McMurtry
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When I asked a few friends what came to mind when I said the word “handout,” most of them defined it as what our government gives to people on welfare, or when you give money to the poor man standing on the corner. There were strong opinions, most of which were clearly negative. I think a lot of this attitude comes from the economic challenges we have all endured over the past few years, either in our own homes or in the homes of our neighbors.
However, for me, the word handout means something totally different. See, I am an English teacher, more specifically a college writing teacher. When I think of handouts, the first thing that pops in my mind is the handouts I pass out to my students in class. I love the feel of a neat stack of handouts. However, when I walk into class with them, my students usually groan and roll their eyes back in their heads. They know that I am giving them some kind of new assignment, something else to read, something else with a deadline. The class gets quiet as the handouts are passed back on each row. They wait for me to begin the explanation and review of the handouts.
I know the truth. My students love handouts. College students are busy. They don’t want to waste time guessing what I want them to do or how I’m going to grade an assignment. They want to know in black and white, literally, exactly what is expected of them when I give an assignment. They want to know all the guidelines. When is it due? How do I do it? Where do I get my information? And finally, what should it look like? If I do a good job of designing my handouts, I provide everything my students need. And they like it, whether they admit it or not.
Now, some students will hang on to their handouts and refer to them everyday to make sure they are on the right track with their work. They will bring them to class, ask me questions, and work diligently every day on their assignment. They will be prepared on the due date. They will feel confident and proud to turn in their work. Others will stuff their handouts away and wait until the last minute, the due date, to pull out those handouts and try to figure out what to do. They seek me out at the last possible minute. They lose sleep. When it is time to turn in the assignment, they do so reluctantly.
When I listen to any type of presentation, I really like a good handout. It shows me that the speaker is prepared, that he or she thought about my expectations and ways to engage me as part of the presentation. The handout provides me with an outline that I can follow. I can predict what the speaker is going to say, when he or she will be finished, and I can even doodle or make notes if I want to.
When I was thinking about the way I think of handouts, it occurred to me that my Bible is one big handout. I almost feel guilty calling it that. However, the Master Teacher of all time designed a big handout that tells me clearly in black and white what is expected of me. It provides me with all the information I need. If I am a good student, I will not stuff my Bible away and procrastinate on the task ahead. I will not wait for crisis time to try to find meaning from it. I will not lose sleep. I will, instead, like a good student, have it with me at all times. I will read it daily, ask questions about what it says, look for examples to follow. I will even doodle and take notes in it.
I wish I could tell all of my English students what Proverbs 6:23 (NIV) tells us: “For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections are a way to life.”I know that my master teacher prepared the way for me, and if I follow his directions from the most important handout, I will receive an A+, Good Job, on my final assignment.
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