A glimpse at Jesus’s approach to handling diversity will prove very helpful as we consider how to adjust our teaching for the needs of our students in the virtual classroom. Jesus connected with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, both His disciples and those He helped.
Christ’s first disciples showed great diversity. They represented widely varied characters, personalities and occupations. Ellen White points out that His disciples included “Levi Matthew the publican, called from a life of business activity, and subservience to Rome; the zealot Simon, the uncompromising foe of the imperial authority; the impulsive, self-sufficient, warmhearted Peter, with Andrew his brother; Judas the Judean, polished, capable, and mean-spirited; Philip and Thomas, faithful and earnest, yet slow of heart to believe; James the less and Jude, of less prominence among the brethren, but men of force, positive both in their faults and in their virtues; Nathanael, a child in sincerity and trust; and the ambitious, loving-hearted sons of Zebedee.”
In addition, Christ taught people of varied age groups and nationalities. Among these were the Samaritan woman, the Syrophonician woman’s daughter who needed healing, and the many blind, deaf, mute, paralyzed and crippled people who He healed. In other words, all these groups of people were among his learners. What was Christ’s secret? What made His teachings reach people of diverse cultures, language and nationality so effectively?
Christ reached people from all groups by focusing on the possibilities in each person. Ellen White says, “In every human being He discerned infinite possibilities. He saw men as they might be, transfigured by His grace—in ‘the beauty of the Lord our God.’” His faith in people and his character inspired and transformed them: “Looking upon them with hope, He inspired hope. Meeting them with confidence, He inspired trust. Revealing in Himself man’s true ideal, He awakened, for its attainment, both desire and faith.”
This faith in people and behaving as a positive role model encouraged people to want to change and to do their best. As we work in the virtual classroom, following Christ’s model with our attitude towards our students and our belief in their potential can make a huge difference in their success even in this environment that is difficult for many students.
This article is Part of the Series Embracing Diversity in the Virtual Class. Watch for Part III next week!
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