Charles Malik said, “If you gain the whole world and lost the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world. Instead it may turn out that you have actually lost the world.” Hear the words of Christian author and educator Marlene D. Lefever from her book Creative Teaching Methods:
But how much more do students learn when they take an active part in the class, when they add comments, ask questions, and answer the questions of their peers. When students share aloud, they become more sure of what they believe, and more confident about their abilities to live that they believe. They also hear the wisdom and experience of more than one person, traditionally the teacher. The impact is multiplied.
Lefever goes on to say that discussion in the Sunday School classroom is a lot more than just talk (p.203). She maintains that very few educational models can stand alone without it. I would agree. As she says, “Discussion is a part of any good teaching plan” (p.203). Lefever goes on to list 6 reasons why discussion is so beneficial to Bible study groups (pp.204-205):
- Discussion stimulates interest and thinking, and helps students develop the skills of observation, analysis, and logic.
- Discussion helps students clarify and review what they have learned.
- Students can sometimes solve their own problems through discussion.
- Discussion allows students to hear opinions that are more mature and perhaps more Chrsitlike than their own.
- Discussion stimulates creativity and aids students in applying what they have learned to everyday situations.
- When students verbalize what they believe and are forced to explain or defend what they say, their convictions are strengthened and their ability to share what they believe is increased.
If you use an ongoing curriculum that has discussion questions for you to ask your group, may I encourage you to follow the teaching plan and ask those questions? Group teaching plans are almost always crafted by experts who understand the interpersonal dynamics of the education process, and their suggested discussion questions will help your group members process and apply Scripture more fully than if they only listened to an interesting lecture.
As friend David Francis has said, “The people in Bible study groups need to talk at least as much as the teacher does.” That’s very good counsel! It may seem counter-intuitive to some teachers who believe their job is to talk and present information. Designing Bible studies where discussion is an essential element is a ministry and a service each group member. Try incorporating more discussion in your group’s Bible study the next time you meet!
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