This is article two of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.
Pedagogy is the art and science of childhood learning. Children are concrete thinkers; they can understand the facts of a Bible story. For example, children can understand the facts that Jonah disobeyed God; tried to run away; was swallowed by a big fish; then decided to obey God and go to Nineveh. What they can’t understand is that Jonah was prejudiced and that they might be too. This is an abstract concept that is beyond their ability to understand. At around 12 years old, children begin to think (with some assistance) in abstracts as they grow into the Formal Operational Stage of Thinking (Piaget). They begin to understand the biblical truths behind the Bible facts. That is why during the youth/student years all of those old Bible stories are repeated. My wife and I taught 8th graders for 18 years in a row. Our teenagers would roll their eyes at having to go over the stories again, however, they were now able to hear them with new insight and understanding. Teachers of students must begin emphasizing, not just the facts, but the biblical truth behind the facts. This is transformational teaching; creating a new path for the future.
Andragogy is the art and science of adult learning. It assumes that adults come with experiences and stories to share. Learning takes place best when the Bible passage and life experiences intersect and adults can share their experiences and stories with others. This is one way that mature believers can mentor new believers. When adults are involved and share experiences, this is transformational teaching.
Think about your last teaching experience. Did you have some good discussion or lecture only? What did your teaching environment (room) look like? What methods did you use to involve the learners? People learn using different modes of learning. Some learn best by hearing (auditory), some by seeing (visual), and some by doing (kinesthetic). Every learning experience, every Bible study you teach should include all three (3) learning modes.
Think about your next Bible study. What will your learners hear, see, and do to make Bible study more meaningful for them.
- Thinkers usually come into the learning experience with pen/pad in hand ready to collect data; they are less emotion centered and more rational and information centered; they are impatient with group discussion and only want to hear what the leader has to say; they need to hear something.
- Feelers love to talk; they enjoy group discussion; are more interested in general rather than specific conversations; and enjoy listening and sharing ideas. They need to talk.
- Sensors are doers; they love hands-on learning; they’re fast movers and action oriented; they are not so much interested in the process just getting something done. They need to do something;
My wife, Sherry, is a sensor. We enjoy hiking. She will hike just for the sake of walking; I, on the other hand, need to have a destination like a waterfall. I am an intuitor.
- Intuitors are experimenters; they love trial and error; they are creative and love artsy types of learning; they enjoy self-discovery and are flexible in that they can adapt to the other learning styles well, but they must see a process and purpose.
For example, I was leading a Bible study on the passage where the woman broke the bottle of Nard and anointed Jesus. Outside the room I had placed a table with sample perfumes and colognes for the learners to try. As they entered the room, the Motivational activity was: Make a list of all of the names of perfumes and colognes you can think of. I saw one member punch his wife and say, I thought this was a Bible study. He participated fully, and then after the groups shared their lists, I said, Today, we will study about a woman who used perfume to show extravagant love to Jesus, and how we can show Him our love too. The man went, Oh. He got it; he saw the process I was using and the purpose behind it.
Paul admonished Timothy to …handle correctly the ‘Word of truth’. Teachers must discover the learning styles of their learners and plan their methods with their members and potential members in mind. We must handle correctly the Word for thinkers, feelers, sensors, and intuitors. To be transformational, We must shift from the traditional role of ‘knowledge dispenser’ to that of model, mentor, and organizer of experiences that help people grow. Lynn Stoddard, Redesigning Education.
Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.