I’m no professional educator, but I often think about learning styles and my own personal walk as a follower of Jesus. Especially in the West, our vision of learning to follow Jesus involves sitting down with a Bible and a journal and working hard on concentration for an extended period of time. Not sure about you, but even after disciplining myself to sit and read (and thankfully I’ve been given more grace and diligence lately in this area), it’s hard to rise from the event and feel like I’ve really learned something.
This is a long one, so if you’re skimming, don’t miss the numbered list at the bottom. That’s the heart of the post.
So, I’m currently thinking about the fact that though reading and personal study is important, the actual learning for me may take place through different formats. I’ve heard about learning styles a lot and taken several tests to find out my preferences. (I’m mostly Kinesthetic but also Visual–for anyone who was wondering) No one is 100% anything. Of course, we all learn audibly, visibly and through touch and experience. But, even with the combination, studies show that we do all lean toward a particular learning style, even if just slightly.
Have you ever thought about this in terms of your diligence in learning to walk with Jesus? Sometimes, I think I (and maybe some of you) get frustrated or despair because we keep trying to learn more about Jesus and follow Him through one particular learning style…and we’re just not getting it.
See what you think about this…
When Jesus called His disciples, He didn’t tell them to go study the Torah or require hours of diligent reading. Instead, He just asked them to follow Him.
Now, He did talk a lot-and certainly was quoting Scripture right and left. (Audible Learners)
- The man could preach…there will never be a sermon like this one
- He brought up Scripture in discussions and rebuttals
- He told stories and parables to make his point
But, He didn’t just say, ‘This Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.‘ He also showed them a lot. (Visual Learners)
- He actually went out and started binding up the brokenhearted
- He made the lame walk
- He raised the dead (are you kidding me? did I just see that?)
He let them see what he was talking about. And He didn’t just do all these things Himself, either. He gave them hands on learning experiences. (Kinesthetic Learners)
- He sent them out two by two
- He told Peter to go get the coin out of the fish’s mouth
- He let them try to heal the demon possessed boy
When I was studying language learning, our teachers did a really memorable demonstration for us. They took two groups.
- Group 1 had a list of 20 words. They were to look at the words and study them. After 5 minutes, the list was removed and Group 1 had to write all the words from memory.
- Group 2 had 20 objects. They were to play with the objects and observe them as closely as possible. After 5 minutes, the objects were removed and Group 2 had to write down all the objects they’d seen.
Guess who had a better memory? Group 2 beat Group 1 hands down. There was no competition.
So, what am I saying?
- One, I don’t think (and maybe I’m wrong) that Jesus intended for us to feel that the one way to know Him better was through diligent reading and study. If this is the case, then a great percentage of the world can’t fully learn about Him. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to read and to study the Bible (and work hard to increase literacy worldwide) but I don’t think Jesus intended for us to feel the task so burdensome when trying to learn how to follow Him if reading doesn’t necessarily work well for us.
- Two, I think we could serve ourselves and our sanctification well by figuring out our own learning styles and trying to change up the way we learn about Jesus to better fit our own individual (God given) needs. To start, take this Learning Style Inventory if you don’t already know your style or you want to make sure you know yourself as well as you think you do.
- Three, I think we should be industrious and find ways to learn Scripture and study Jesus’ words through a combination of learning styles. I want to be like Group 2-able to remember and internalize all this great truth. Here’s just a few ideas:
- Listening to Scripture as you read it. We love Max McLean and my husband regularly listens to Max read as he reads along himself. This is hitting both visual and audible at the same time.
- Talking through Scripture with your spouse, friends, co-workers, you name it. Why not grab a little something from your reading this morning and bring it up in conversation? Here’s mine for today-‘Can you believe how many times Pharaoh was tested with plagues and still never gave in? Can you imagine being an Egyptian mother when it was dark for 3 days or there were frogs hopping everywhere? How about being an Israelite mother whose home was filled with light while everyone else’s was dark?’
- Watching well done movies on Scripture. Of course, there is danger here because there’s lots of room for interpretation. (There’s certainly a reason Jesus left us a Book and not a movie). But, I find visual aids helpful in realizing it was a real event with real people…things start to sink in more when I see it.
- Finding physical ways to experience Scripture. I don’t know-this may seem weird to you. But, how about actually going to buy a mustard seed and seeing how small it really is? Or what about buying a big map of Biblical lands and tracing the Israelites journey with a marker? Or getting a bottle of water and an old bottle of wine (don’t drink it yet) and thinking about how different those two things are…and then realizing Jesus made one from the other, in an instant.
What do you think? Am I crazy? Just writing these things out is encouraging me to find new ways to get Scripture into my head, my emotions, my life. Jesus is not boring. And Scripture is not boring. So, maybe I just need to be a little more creative in my approach. Please tell me your crazy ideas. I’d love to learn how you learn and figure out ways to be more faithful in following Jesus together.
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