Teaching Perspectives & Tools

 I have a dream!

That one day words associated with “learning” the Bible will sound like this: “pleasant,” “joyful,” “great hobby,” “exciting,” “relaxing,” “growth-stimulating,” “lifelong passion” and “absorbing.”

Why not us?

Why not now?

To this end, I have been gathering tools and insights, studies and values, to help be become a better teacher.

One insight from recent learning studies has also helped me. How do learners best retain info so they can put it into practice? This realigns our learning theory with God’s creation-design. We learn in many ways. Rank these few with a “4” being the most effective way to learn and a “1” the least effective way. We

  • HEAR,

  • READ,

  • DO,

  • PASS-IT-ALONG to another person.

Now, what percentage of learning in each of these methods do you think we retain?

Give it your best guess. Make this active.

The Hebrew culture knew what we are only now relearning. Some studies show, and observation supports, that we retain around 5% of what we hear, 10% of what we read, 70% of what we hear and do and 90% of what we hear, do and pass on to others. Actively listening and asking/answering questions to one another with the commitment to put the learning into practice and pass it along to others is the model for natural learning, like Jesus taught.

Let’s make this concrete. Let’s say that a directive teacher is superb and holds us spellbound…a “100” on the scale of 1 to 100. What retention rate does this “listening only” style normally have? 100 times 5% = 5 effective retention quotient. Now, let’s say I learn to teach naturally. Let’s also assume that I am a very mediocre teacher, say even way below average, a 40 out of 100. Since the retention rate is 90% for this style, what would this compute to? 40 times 90% = 36 effective retention quotient. Learning with this mediocre teacher would be seven times more effective than just listening to a brilliant, directive preacher.

“Ezra had committed himself to studying the Revelation of God, to living it, and to teaching Israel to live its truths and ways”
(Ezra 7:10, The Message).

It’s not accidental that experts are now discovering that Ezra tapped into a retention level of 90%. Yes, learning also takes effort! Ezra set his heart with a determined, lifelong effort to…

  • learn God’s Word (read & listen, 5-10%),

  • live his life consistent with it (do, 70%), and then

  • give it away to God’s people (pass it along, 90%).

Wise learners find the maximum “high leverage point” for change, that point where effort is rewarded with maximum return. With this in mind, based on the stats above, how would you design a learning plan if you wanted to maximize growth? We must rethink how God designed us to learn responsibly, especially in our information overloaded society.

What learning styles would you focus on?

Jot down some ideas in the margin. How does this differ from what you have experienced in the past? What emotion does this emit? Hope? Excitement? Enthusiasm? Confusion? Fear? How does this compare with how you prefer to learn?

Our goal in studying together is not simply interaction to fill the air with words, but to build an environment of discovery, insight and application that changes lives. When people verbalize, they often expose gaps in their learning or training, gage more accurately where they are on their journey, and are inwardly motivated to take steps to move towards ownership for change.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own” (Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister).

Why invest so much time and energy in such a low-leverage return as mere lecture?

Break free from our outdated methods. Recapture high-leveraged learning. Ezra, one of God’s leaders in the Old Testament, knew this centuries ago.

Additional Teaching Tips:

Here are hyperlinks to some of the following if you want to enhance your interactive teaching skills.

  • Key Motivations for Learning (Page or PDF)

  • Empowering Questions (Page or PDF) – Coming Soon

  • S-A-V-I Learning Styles (Page or PDF)

  • Train to Both Inquire & Advocate (Page or PDF)

  • Turning Obstacles into Opportunities (Page or PDF) – Coming Soon

  • Basic Thoughts on a Philosophy of Learning (Page or PDF) – Coming Soon

  • My Confidence and Challenge (Page or PDF)

How about you?

For a PDF of “I have a dream!