It’s rare to meet a teacher qualified to teach as many subjects as Dr. Paul Cable. With a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of Georgia, a Masters of Divinity in Biblical Languages from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Wheaton College, Paul could easily fill the role of three teachers at GAC. So of all subjects why choose languages? “I fell in love with languages initially because I loved reading the Bible in the original text. I love the Scripture and the ability to be able to study it in depth. And along the way, I think the Lord molded me to love languages, which is his mercy to me as someone who didn’t love languages in high school and college.” Of the six languages that Paul can read, he teaches Latin to students at GAC and Greek and Latin to students enrolled in GAC’s online school, Ethos.
Paul has published a peer-reviewed article and book reviews in some of the leading academic and Christian theology journals. He has also given numerous lectures and academic paper presentations from topics as diverse as the literary function of the Babel narrative to the ecclesiology, ethics, and imitation of believers in Philippians. Before coming to GAC, Paul taught at the college level and for an online classical academy for middle and high schoolers. He has always known that he wanted to be in the classroom full time so the opportunity to come to GAC was a boon for him.
Paul’s faith walk influences his teaching deeply. “The major way that God reaches out to us by the Spirit is through his Word. We are also made in his image as people who need and love to communicate. And every student who walks into my classroom, whatever they think about themselves, I tell them, ‘You can do this already. It’s how God has created you.’ It’s my goal to teach them how to use language beautifully and as a way to build each other up.”
“There is something unique about teaching languages. A lot of times, you get students who may struggle with traditional academic subjects. But I don’t know that about them when they walk in the door. I have had students with a very high facility for language and they’ve never had that experience of success before. As a language teacher, I get to experience the first time a student feels naturally gifted at something at school. And that’s one of the best things about teaching. And these stories are refreshingly common in the classroom for a language teacher.”
There are many reasons why Paul feels blessed to be at GAC. One reason is the way GAC encourages teachers to engage in mentoring relationships with students. “There are students I get to teach for two straight years. And I get a chance to watch them grow. And as a middle school teacher, I get to be there and shape students when they are first starting to look up out of childhood and into adulthood and realize who they are. And the kids will come in and just want to talk and share. I had a student who would come in and he would want to talk about lawn maintenance. This came about because I told some silly story in Latin about how badly I had cut my grass. And the student is clearly a savant at lawn maintenance and grass. He would come in and we would talk after school about nitrate levels in the soil. As that relationship grew over a couple of years in the classroom, I started to notice that when I said something in class, he knew that I cared about things other than just what I am talking about in class. That I cared about him in general. And it’s a way of building trust.”
Building trust and loving students is a core belief for Paul. “There are more aspects of love than just experiencing happiness with them. Telling them the truth, caring for them, being fair to them, which involves both challenging them when they need to be challenged, and recognizing limitations and being fair with those. A teacher has to love his or her students enough to be honest with them, to repent to them when they sin against them, to be fair and prepare them in the classroom. I think a teacher has to love his or her students in ways that the students don’t always read as love but that’s prioritizing them over yourself. It’s similar to parenting in some ways.”
Paul genuinely cares about modeling an interest in his subject matter, and this enthusiasm is infectious for his students. “I consider myself a huge dork. I’m jealous of everyone’s curriculum. I am jealous when the history teacher gets to teach World War 2, or when the science teacher gets to teach about mitosis, or when the math teacher gets to teach about slope intercept form. I’m interested in a lot of stuff. What I try to do is be really interested in what I am teaching and exemplify that “this is interesting and worthy of your interest” by being interested in it myself. I try to model for students what it means to be interested and curious, and hopefully encourage lifelong learning.”
Paul’s curiosity about learning has led him to develop an expertise in online education, first with Memoria Press Online Classical Academy and now with Ethos School. “With online teaching, I learned how important human contact is. There are different technologies and best practices, but the real challenge is how, as a teacher, do you enter into a formative relationship with a student in a remote way. And it’s not efficient but it’s the only way to do it right. People are formed by example and love; they are not formed by forum posts. They are formed personally. That is what I love about what Ethos School is doing through all of the points of contact with kids. It’s about really forming people, not just dumping information on them and testing them on it. I think with Ethos School, we’ll be able to combine that contact with the best practices that the technology we have allows us to do in a way that is sustainable.”
Besides teaching Latin, Paul also coaches GAC students in varsity debate. “Students tend to come in thinking they are going to argue, but they learn that real argument takes a lot of work and compassion. You have to legitimately understand both sides of the argument so well that you can present the best version of both sides. It equips students to understand the best version of an argument that they disagree with in the real world. As people, we tend to ‘other’ the people who hold a position we disagree with. What debate allows us to do is learn to do to others as we would want them to do to us, to love other people well by taking them seriously in their thoughts and their ideas.”
- Relationships at the Center