Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

A Blog for Teachers
by Mary Jean Powers

Why Do We Talk So Much?

Jan 3, 2022

“All the ends of speaking are reducible to four; every speech being intended to enlighten the understanding, to please the imagination, to move the passions or to influence the will.”

George Campbell

Teachers talk … a Lot. Sometimes I wonder if I talk too much when I teach. I think I do. I wonder if more learning could be achieved if I created scenarios in which I draw out my students.  We know that self-discovery is far more rewarding and long-lasting than our more Western attempts at cramming information into students’ heads.  So, do we take the challenge to teach by using innovative and engaging methods, or default to merely delivering information (which is certainly easier and less time-consuming)?  Should I be spending more time experimenting, searching for new ways to imaginatively reach similar goals without talking so much? Quite possibly … (and I’m sure most of my students would concur with a hearty, “most definitely!”).

If we must talk, we must also be convinced of our desired outcome. We must craft our words into shapes which will directly hit the bullseye. If we aim small, we will miss small. If we aim aimlessly, we will grossly miss the target.

“All the ends of speaking are reducible to four; every speech being intended to enlighten the understanding, to please the imagination, to move the passions or to influence the will.” 

In this statement, George Campbell summarizes “all the ends of speaking” into four categories:

  1. To understand
  2. To imagine
  3. To feel
  4. To do

As you plan your next lessons, ask yourself which of these four targets you intend to hit. Alternate targets if you find yourself spending too much time on one.


Do you want your students to understand the concept you are teaching well enough to confidently apply it? Then craft your words accordingly. Choose only words which adequately and succinctly explain exactly what you want them to understand. Add only words, stories, and analogies which will clarify their understanding. Your lesson must be clearly identifiable and challengingly achievable.


Do you want your students to imaginatively create, to dream, to envision beyond their comfortable boundaries? Then present your lesson accordingly. Employ all their senses for experimentation, and present by modeling vulnerability, enthusiasm, curiosity, and joy. Imagine with them!


Do you want your students to feel, to be emotionally moved from the inside out? Then set yourself up to be moved as you journey with them. Allow yourself to get choked up, or to laugh like you do with those who know you best!  Read with passion a story that grabs your heart every single time, or make the lesson relatable with a movie clip, or contextualize with sensitivity.


Do you want your students to be compelled to do something with the challenge you have created? Then you must absolutely have options for them; make every option appealing to someone in your class.  Be willing to get into the thick of the activity with them; do not stand on the sidelines and watch. Become the student you want to teach! Allow them to choose how they will actively engage the lesson.

Challenge yourself with your next lesson plans. Clearly define your target.  Aim small; miss small!

About Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

I am a teacher. You, too? I hope you love the profession as much as I do! I was 16 when I got my first teaching gigs – I had 20 private piano students and a Sunday School class of 4 and 5-year olds! At that point in my “career,” my definition of teacher was very limited. But now – after 45+ years of experience – I have come to realize that teacher can mean many different things. I’d like to share some of those insights with you! My posts will range from quotes to prayers, from cartoons to words of wisdom. Much of my teaching experience has been international, so you'll get to watch some video stories from around the globe. Jesus is the best Teacher I know, so I will be including Him in this blog, as well. I hope my thoughts and my story will encourage, provoke, and inspire you to become the teacher you’ve been created to be!

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Mary Jean Powers

Mary Jean Powers

B.A. in Christian Education
M.A. in Biblical Studies
Music teacher (band and choir director, private instruction) for 35 years
International Bible teacher for 17+ years
Certified Walk Thru the Bible instructor
Certified TESL International Instructor
CEU Provider for ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International)
Certified Life Coach and Chaplain

Who am I? A teacher coming alongside teachers!