Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Teaching and Youth Ministry

    I’m proud of my sister Elizabeth (to me, she’ll always be Lizzy). Earlier this spring, she graduated with her masters in Public Policy. Then (along with her husband Joe, dog Toby, and cat Bono), Lizzy moved from Georgia to Missouri in order pursue the next step in her career—working as a teacher for Teach for America. This fall, Lizzy will teach seventh grade English in an inner-city school. It should be an amazing experience.

    Currently, she is receiving training in California (what a nice place to train) and came across some teachings that I find very interesting. Her mentors state that for each grade a child is in, the teacher should lecture for that many minutes and nothing more. So, in a typical forty-five minute class, Lizzy will lecture for seven minutes and have classroom activities for the remaining time.

    Has anyone else ever heard this? As youth ministers, I think we spend a lot of time trying to teach our students. I know I’ve been guilty of talking with my junior high kids for more than seven or eight minutes. Maybe I need to redefine some of my teachings and focus more on group activities and hands-on learning. Maybe we focus too much time on teaching and not enough time on relationships.


    Calvin said...

    I've heard that figure before. I've always thought it was a little on the low side, but normally people don't have a problem lecturing too much so....

    I've found, with Junior and Senior highers that turning a "lecture" into a "discussion" that they have a part in directing (by nature of it being a conversation) can be extremely helpful...and a load of fun too.

    LaurenitaNocoChica said...

    My cousin and her boyfriend both did Teach for America, and both got to teach in San Jose, where the kids who are in 8th grade are only at a 3rd grade learning level so it's very challenging to try and teach them. I think that the idea of the minute per year lecture has potential, but probably not when you're working with a youth group of varying ages. Or, in such a case as Teach for America, where they are not where they should be academically.

    I agree with the guy above me, discussions disguised as lectures are much more effective.

    Brian said...

    An an educator, this makes a good deal of sense to me. Current brain research maintains that the brain needs time to process and reflect upon new learning. Even an adult brain can only handle about 20 minutes of input before it has to stop and shift gears and reflect. Othewise, you get the "in one ear and out the other" syndrome. Anytime we are introducing youth to a new concept, biblical story, or theological idea, they need time to wrestle with the new information, whether through conversation, visual stimuli, drawing, acting out the story, journaling their thoughts, etc.