I don’t think it’s wise to categorize people, but I do it anyway when it’s convenient. In my 10 years of teaching Bible classes for high school students I have observed that most students fall into one of six categories. Knowing these types of students will not help you at all in your teaching, but at least it’s fun to know.
- Jeremy Jokester – I start with this one, because this was me (and still is most of the time). This kid loves to say or do something funny, even at the most inopportune times. I may say, “Let’s pray. Dear Father…” only to be interrupted with a loud farting sound and lots of laughter. As the teacher, what can you say at that point? “Stop farting during our prayers, please?” Or maybe I could continue the prayer like this, “God, please forgive JJ for that most disrespectful action. I know that you will judge him for his inappropriate bodily functions. May you give him unending gas for the rest of the week, and may his children have terrible flatulence problems.”
- Negative Nadia – Oh the joys of teaching this student. I might say, “Please take out a piece of paper and pencil.” Inevitably NN will then let out a huge sigh followed by, “Are you serious? Why do we need to do that? This class is stupid.” The best is when you announce that a test is coming up. “What? I already have a test on that day. I hate my life. And I hate you, too.” I usually just say, “Hang on a second. Let me get my phone out so I can call the Wahmbulance.”
- All-Knowing Andy - This kid loves to show off his knowledge like it is his beautiful, brand new Ferrari. He assumes that his gift to the world is his smartness, and it must be shared with everyone in the world so that it can be a better place. Whenever I begin a sentence that even remotely sounds like I might ask a question, AKA shoots his hand up so quickly, the girl next to him has to brush her hair back down. It goes something like this: “Do you think… (interrupted by the violent thrust of AKA)… yes, AKA?” “I think that the prophet Jeremiah speaks to this in chapter 28, when he rebukes the false prophet Hananiah…” “Um, yeah AKA, let me interrupt you there. Thanks for showing off your knowledge of OT prophets, but I was just going to ask if you guys think it is hot in here or not.”
Note: These are not my real responses to these situations. This is just my feeble attempt at humor. Please don’t try to get me fired. Thanks. (This is part 1. Part 2 is coming next week.)
Note 2: Any resemblance to any of my current students is merely coincidental.
(Editor's note: Everett Bracken teaches comparative religion classes at Parkview High School.)