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Learning Tasks vs. Sharing Everything You Learned

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In the last article, we talked about the importance of slowing down our teaching in Bible class. Part of the reason I tend to rush through my material is that I’ve already grappled with the text and am eager to share what I’ve learned with the class. The easiest way to do this is simply to lecture.

However, at a 2013 Summer Quarter course, Pastor Michael Quandt (then professor of education) offered that simply telling your class everything you learned in the course of your preparation is behaving like the character from Saturday Night Live called “Pre-chew Charlie.” Pre-chew Charlie owned a restaurant in which his waiters specialized in “softening up” steaks and other foods for restaurant goers by first chewing it for them. Gross!

BLecturing-TTWut we do much the same thing when we simply regurgitate everything we know by lecturing. If our goal is to train lifelong Bible students, then we need to give our students the opportunity to chomp into God’s Word on their own. Here is an example of how I’ve tried to do that in a Bible study on the book of Daniel.

Daniel 7 takes place well over a decade before the events of Daniel 5 (the writing on the wall), and Daniel 6 (the lions’ den). Why does the book of Daniel go back in time at this point? Compare the chapter and section headings of Daniel 1-6 with the chapter and section headings of Daniel 7-12. How are the two sections of Daniel different?

(So often we simply give the outline of a book. At times, that’s fine—determining an outline of a Bible book can be a complex undertaking. But when possible, I think it’s good for the class to figure out the outline on their own. This can help them understand why a particular book of the Bible is arranged the way it is. This in turn helps them marvel at the beauty of God’s Word on another level. The Bible isn’t just a bunch of true stories thrown together, like a fifth-grader’s journal entries. Thought went into arranging them, and there must be a reason for that.)

Please don’t misunderstand, lecturing is not bad! Sometimes it’s the best way to communicate what your students need to know. However, a 2003 study found that when a lecturer delivers his lesson, he actually gets a physical “high” from lecturing. What a shame if our personal “high” experienced at the Bible class podium leaves everyone else in the role of static spectator. It would be better by far if an instructor shared his energy by designing appropriate learning tasks for the students—tasks that allowed them to share the learning-induced “high” and tasks that caused synapses to fire in many brains, not just one.