There are two chief hindrances for the learner when being taught: apathy and distraction. Without attention, the student can’t learn. Apathy is a disinterest in the subject or an unwillingness to even know what the subject is. Distraction, the enemy of all learning, is the physical conditions or mental state that keep a learner from full attention.
I just finished reading the Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory (originally published in 1884). His focus is on Sunday School – and I’m amazed at the intentionality and expectation on both teachers and students. The bar is set high in these pages.
The teacher must:
- Prepare each lesson with fresh study. Old study won’t inspire teachers to give their best.
- Find in the lesson the best analogies to help students learn through something familiar.
- Study the lesson until it takes shape in familiar language.
- Find the practical value of the lesson for the learners.
- Use freely all the aids available to you.
- Keep in mind that complete mastery of a few concepts is better than a little knowledge on several fronts.
- Have a plan for study and preparation.
- Utilize books to gain other’s thoughts on the subject.
But students also have a commitment and a role to play. They must do their best to tune out, give attention and stay focused. They must engage as the learner, observe, question and think critically about the subject.
Intense and authentic interest on the part of the teacher will automatically draw students into the curiosity of learning. It will be passed on naturally. This requires preparation and desire to share on behalf of the teacher. It also required wisdom to know when to bring the lesson to a close – if the physical conditions are causing fatigue on the students. There isn’t a certain time limit, it’s whether or not the lesson was presented well and taken root.
The two chief hindrances to this process of learning caught my eye – apathy and distraction. These are two things teachers, preachers, speakers and leaders must learn to systematically combat in order for students to learn and develop.
To overcome apathy:
a teacher must spark interest, invite students in, present a problem to overcome, and be authentic in having learned and experienced the lesson himself.
To overcome distraction:
a teacher must be well prepared, take careful note of the space, the time limits, the physical comforts and surroundings.
Both of these key aspects are important for children’s classes, adult classes and worship services… combating apathy and distraction. Two keys to teaching in church.