Experiential Learning Cycle, Part 2

Would you love to be a better teacher? Would you love to be able to teach in a way that makes an actual difference in the lives of children?

Late spring is a great time for parents, Sunday school teachers, and other children’s leaders to look back on the last year and look ahead to the next. In our quest to better fulfill Deuteronomy 6:4-7, let’s continue looking at some ways to teach life-skills to children.

Review/Step One

Remember that David Kolb, who first articulated the “Experiential Learning Cycle,” is a humanist psychologist and, as such, does not factor God into the equation.

We know that human-based learning and knowledge, especially that which rejects the Creator, is flawed (Romans 1:18-25, 32).

We also know that God is the source of all truth (Colossians 1:16-17). In fact, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV).

Finally, we know that the FIRST STEP we begin when seeking to know how best to teach (or do anything) is on our knees in prayer. Let’s do that now. Please pray with me these words Jesus said to the Father in the hearing of His disciples:

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

John 17:24-26 (NIV)

Step Two

Experiential_Learning_Cycle_Simple_705After beginning on our knees, the next step is to “do it.” This is where we just jump in and try something. Get your hands dirty and just do it.

  • In a homeschool setting, this might be where you have a science experiment.
  • In a leadership training course (like those for kids that are part of Leaders In Training), this is where you give a puppet show to your first audience.
  • In an outreach project, this is where you go paint the curb for a local business.
  • In family worship or Sunday school, this is where you do a project or teach a Bible lesson.

Think of it this way. The “do it” step is probably Columbo’s favorite: “Just the facts, ma’am.” This is the bare bones stuff. It’s doing the activity itself. It’s the experience. It’s living the Bible lesson as it happened the first time.

Don’t get ahead of me here. I know you teachers are raring to get to the teaching part. That’s the next couple of steps. For now, let’s just lay the groundwork.

Ready to try it?

Case Study

Let’s use the Bible lesson of the feeding of the five thousand from Mark 6:30-44 (NIV). For our “do it,” let’s look at the story. Pretend you are with me in class and we’ll “act it out” together with the small rolls and goldfish crackers I brought to class.

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Did you catch that? Even Jesus and His disciples got away to pray. I’m just saying I can be done.

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Here we go. Are you ready?

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

Show me your hungry face, class.

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

Class, can you go to that table and bring me the plates with food on them, please? What do we have here? Let’s see what the disciples brought to Jesus.

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.

Ok, class. Sit down with a partner, just like the people.

40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.

(Can you see me doing this in our imaginary class? What you don’t see is me pulling out extra rolls and fish I have hidden to pass out next.)

Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Great job, class! Now lets put the leftovers away in these twelve pretend baskets.

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