Learning and Teaching

Jesus teaches His disciples.

As I continue to take the Blogging 101 course on WordPress, today’s task was to write a post based on a prompt from the Daily Post. Today’s prompt asked us to write about our learning styles:

What’s your learning style? Do you prefer learning in a group and in an interactive setting? Or one-on-one? Do you retain information best through lectures, or visuals, or simply by reading books?

I will write about this in two ways: First, by answering the question briefly; second, by discussing how this relates to Jesus’ teaching methods and the Bible itself.

My learning style is simple: I am very much a solo self-teaching type of student. I can learn well in a group, but I tend to thrive when I am allowed to follow my own curiosity wherever it may lead. I thrive most with books, although web pages work as well. (For me, web pages work best if I am looking for step-by-step instructions for completing a task or troubleshooting a problem, like when I recently bought a new printer and needed to connect it to my computer. Books are ideal for gathering information or learning about a topic.)

Like I said, that is my learning style. Yours may be completely different.

An in-depth discussion of learning styles can cover a lot of other territory. Some people learn best by pondering abstract concepts. Others learn best by following step-by-step instructions. Others enjoy stories.

Our learning styles evolve throughout our lives. Small children learn best by hearing stories or being given strict rules. You might tell a six-year-old boy, “It’s not nice to hit other children” (rule) or remind him how he felt when another child hit him (story). Ethical and philosophical discussions about the just use of violence and force (abstract concepts) should be saved for a few years later, when the child is more mature. (This is why most Sunday-school curricula for younger children focus on Bible stories. Discussion of broad application of the Book of Proverbs are best saved for the older grades.)

This may seem trivial, but it is a lesson we need to remember when studying the Bible. Several years ago, I wrote an article about how to study the Bible. One of the key points I made was that we must “{i}nterpret the Bible wisely,” and I pointed out the importance of recognizing a passage’s genre. History, poetry, prophecy (especially apocalyptic literature, like Revelation), laws, and letters teach different things, use different “rules,” and should be interpreted differently. The person who treats every symbol in Revelation literally, as if it is a historical book, will make mistakes as silly as the person who thinks a Peanuts cartoon is reporting current events since it is in the newspaper.

Thank God that He has provided diverse means of speaking to us through His Word. Some days, we will need to hear from a parable. Other days, He may need to set the law down for us. Let us embrace the grace He has shown by meeting us at our various points of need.

5 responses to “Learning and Teaching”

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