Who was the first teacher in the Bible? The first reference to “teacher” introduces us to Tubal-Cain. What did he teach? Interestingly, and perhaps significantly, he was not a Bible teacher, nor a teacher of math or language arts. He was a Tech-Ed teacher. “Tubal-Cain [was] an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron” (Gen 4:22, NKJV).
The teaching profession emerges in the context of the city-building enterprise of Cain and his descendants. The first reference to “city” in the Bible is in the same context. City-building is what Cain did after he murdered his brother. Among his descendants we find all kinds of people engaged in the project we now call civilization. In the preceding verses we meet people who are innovators in new forms of housing, novel agricultural practices, cultural developments in music. The roots of civilization grew in Cain’s cities, and teaching was part of this. So, we suggest, the task of the teacher is related to the building of civilization
Cain built a city in violation of God’s command that he should never settle down. City-building had always been God’s plan for mankind. The story-line of the Bible was always intended to be moving out from the garden to subdue the wilderness, culminating in the great Garden City that we see in the New Jerusalem at the end of the book. But Cain pioneered another kind of city-building, an alternative without God, the City of Man rather than the City of God. The proto-type for Babylon emerged out of his project; it continued to rival the true city until the end of the story.
The project of civilization and, by implication, the role of the teacher, has been deeply flawed since that false start. But the mandate to build a city was God’s purpose. The dilemma is that man has largely embarked on that endeavour in rebellion against God, and for the wrong reasons – to “make a name for himself” rather than to bring glory to God and serve his fellow creatures (Gen 4:17; 11:4).
Nonetheless, the task of the teacher is that of a city-builder. He is preparing participants in the great God-mandated task of civilization; he is training citizens. Christian teachers have a different city in view; the same skills are required, but they are used to quite different ends.
So the Christian School is not a junior version of Bible College which is geared to training priests to function in a temple. The task is to train citizens to engage in the city – but to do so as citizens of the City of God rather than the City of Man. For such a mandate, the tech-ed teacher is the ideal proto-type.