Reaching the Heart of the Learner
May 4, 2010 Teaching 2391 Views
One of the challenges we face as educators is to discover a way to captivate the learners. The mind needs to be fed a proper diet of information, the emotions need to inspire our students to learn and the will needs to bring about the discipline necessary to assimilate the information into paradigm shift and ultimately lifestyle change.
Sharing information is the easy part of our job. Any subject, properly understood by the teacher and laid out in a logical fashion, can be passed on to the student. Although there is wisdom in understanding the learning preferences of the class (visual, auditory or kinesthetic) and tailoring our instructional methodology to capitalize on those preferences, when all is said and done, the information shared does not depend on these factors.
Emotions are frustratingly unpredictable. Those things that inspire one student to excellence may be only an additional yawn to the apathetic. In my experience, I have found that my expressed emotions have far more to do with classroom response than the nature of the subject. If I am excited about it, the class has a chance to catch the emotion and run with it. If I am bored with the lesson, it is an exceptional class indeed that is able to rise above my lack of interest and be inspired to learn.
The will is where all true learning takes place. Volition guards the door of change. My information may be well crafted and my excitement well expressed but without the key of the will, no true learning results. Volition is a stream of decision-making. Students must be shown the practicality of the subject taught and decide to make room for it in their lives. Evaluating the relevance of the information is a first step in the assimilation process. After relevance, the next step is evaluation of the cost factor. If I make this part of my life what will I gain and what will I lose? The final step is the commitment to dedicate the resources to make it happen and actually take the action.
An example of how this works is in our study of the Bible. The Bible has many things to say about what we know, how we feel, and how we act. The informational stage of a Bible lesson is fairly easy. For example, "in Philippians 4:6-7, we ask the class, "what does the Bible say about worry?" "What does it mean?"
The emotional stage is up to the teacher. If the teacher has spent time learning the material and has already put it to practical use in his/her life, it is easy to teach with an anticipatory excitement of seeing others experience a similar outcome. If not, the teacher needs to be excited about sharing a new learning experience along with the students.
The volitional stage is again the challenge. The teacher must ask, "Is this passage of Scripture on worry relevant to our lives today?" If so, "what is the cost of following the commands or exhortations of the passage? What is the reward?" Finally the call to commitment, the close of the sale, that which turns the theoretical into the practical. "Are you willing to make this a part of your life? How?"
So much of the learning process is dependent upon the teacher consciously integrating the intellectual, emotional and volitional aspects of his/her teaching. Captivating the hearts of our students is our challenge and our joy.