Friday, March 15, 2013

Learning Theory Systems: Part Two

Three Possibilities
          In their discussion of communicators determining their goal, Andy Stanley and Lane Jones state there are three possible goals for communicators.  The first is to teach the Bible to people where the idea is to teach the content of the Bible so interested parties can understand Scripture and find their way through it.  This is the perceived goal of the teacher who methodically goes verse by verse through the books of the Bible.  Of note is the lack of creativity required for this approach. [1] 
The second is to teach people the Bible where the teacher takes into account the people being taught.  This approach requires a constant search for effective ways of imparting biblical truth to those being instructed.  The primary goal with this approach is whether or not the audience understood and if they will remember the material covered.[2]
The third is to teach people how to live a life that reflects the values, principles, and truths of the Bible. [3]It comes as no surprise to one who lives in the immediate area and has attended worship services lead by Stanley to learn he prefers the third option.  He considers this preaching for life change which requires far less information and more application.  Stanley and Jones carefully explain their vision of preaching and teaching for life change. 
Influence on Lesson Plans
          Stanley and Jones advocate an approach that uses smaller amounts of information similar to the approach we see in cognitive learning theory.  It does seem odd that they would utilize such a minimalist view of the other approaches to presenting Scripture.  Stanley and Jones seem to indicate that expository preaching and teaching is an inferior method which is a conclusion the author is simply unwilling to make. 
The teaching for life change approach may seem shallow to some though may actually be more of a directed discovery sort of approach as discussed by Yount.[4]  A closer review of what Stanley and Jones have said has lead this seminarian to conclude the approach is very similar to the humanistic learning approach in the church described by Yount.[5]  Yount rightly reminds his readers that Christian humanism focuses on others in Jesus’ name.  This people approach is taught by other educators as well and is an approach that has come to be preferred by the author.[6] 
Interestingly, Yount himself seems to agree with Stanley and Jones going so far as to provide guidance as to how teachers might encourage students to be doers of the word.[7]  That is never an easy task yet it seems to be a common theme among Christian education authors.[8]
A simplification of lesson plans would seem to be in order with an increased emphasis on application of what was learned.  For the author, there is a tendency to spend so much time and effort focused on the trees the view of the forest is missed.  As enjoyable as a deep theological discussion is, there are many, perhaps even most, who simply are uninterested in that level of detail.  Not everyone aspires to be a seminary student!

[1] Stanely, Andy, and Ronald Lane Jones. Communicating for Change. (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2006), 93-94.
[2] Ibid, 94-95.
[3] Ibid, 95-98
[4] Yount, William R. Created To Learn, 2nd ed. (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 241-48.
[5] Ibid, 328-30.
[6] Mitchell, Michael R. Leading, Teaching, and Making Disciples. (Bloomington, IN: CrossBooks, 2010), 309-10.
[7] Yount, William R., ed. The Teaching Ministry of the Church, 2nd ed. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2008), 252-57.
[8] Richards, Lawrence O., and Gary J. Bredfeldt. Creative Bible Teaching. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1998), 71-73.

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