Online Book Discussion -- The Law of Activity

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Today we will begin our discussion and interaction over the third chapter of the book, Teaching to Change Lives by Howard Hendricks.  But first, a reminder of why I'm doing this.  The Online Book Discussion is somewhat of an experiment to promote involvement and interaction over a book that I think can influence the way we think about teaching.  All teachers (from the pulpit to the preschool) will benefit from reading and interacting over this book.  So, once again, you are invited to join us as we walk through this book together.  Let's begin then with a brief summary of chapter three.

  • Summary

Chapter three introduces us to The Law of Activity.  This law tells us that maximum learning is always the result of maximum involvement.  The one caveat to this law is that the activity must be meaningful; it must have a purpose.  As teachers, too often we settle for passive learning environments and we wonder why our students fail to follow through with what they have learned.  In light of this, Hendricks references the familiar Chinese Proverb which states:

  • I hear, and I forget
  • I see, and I remember
  • I do, and I understand (and change!)

Hendricks asserts that most Christian education is hearing oriented which is why it's often so inefficient.  So we must strive to involve our learners in the learning process.  In doing so, we will see them move from the instruction of God's Word to the application of God's Word.  This is what God desires, namely, active obedience rather than mere head knowledge.

In order for this to happen, we must guide our students by giving them meaningful activities to engage them in the learning process.  Hendricks lists 5 kinds:

  1. Activities that provide direction without dictatorship
  2. Activity that stresses function and application
  3. Activity with a planned purpose
  4. Activity that is concerned with the process as well as the product
  5. Realistic activity that includes problem-solving situations

To sum up these 5, we could say that our job as teachers is not to cover the material but uncover the main thing and provide purposeful activities that will engage our students to apply what they have learned to their individual lives.  After all, that's what learning is all about; it's taking what we've heard and living it out!

Finally, Hendricks rightfully points us to Jesus as the Master Teacher who shows us through his own example of what it means to be a great teacher.  Jesus involved his disciples in the process as he walked with them through life.  He lived what he taught and what he taught flowed out of who he was.  May we follow his model.

  • Questions for Reflection
  1. What did you learn from this chapter?
  2. Do you think the best kind of learning happens by doing?
  3. How do you practically involve your class in the learning process?
  4. Do you consider your teaching predictable?  How can you improve?
  5. How often do you give an assignment to your students and follow up with them?
  6. How do we avoid the tendency of dumping content on our students?
  7. Can you think of a time when you involved your class in a purposeful activity?
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