Today's youth are used to information being presented in short little bursts. Twitter and Facebook have shortened their attention spans to the point that it's difficult for them to concentrate on the same thing for 5 minutes, yet alone the length of the average church lesson. We all know that we learn better when we are engaged in the lesson being taught, but as a teacher sometimes the task of engaging the students is difficult in practice, because engaging the students means that as teachers we need to be better prepared and more engaged ourselves.
In my article 14 Ways to Engage Students in the New Youth Curriculum, I presented some ideas of helping students to use both sides of their brain as they learn. In this article I will present some more ideas from the same teacher training and talk about using questions to help students learn the gospel.
When Jesus Christ taught the people, he taught them with patience and understanding. He sought to know his students enough, that he could teach in a way that connected with them. We've all read the accounts of Christ using parables and real life examples that illustrated what he was teaching far better than an hour long dissertation on the philosophy of it ever could.
Think of when Christ answered the Pharisee's accusations in Luke 5 with the simple question, "Whether [it] is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?" The act of curing the palsied man would have been remarkable enough, but with the question to provoke some deeper thinking, it was all the more a powerful teaching moment. We can harness that same power when we teach. Think of questions that invite thought and allow them to reach their own conclusions about what you are teaching. Those kind of lessons will stick with them much longer than when all the information is spoon fed to them.
The following are presented as a series of questions, in order from least to most thought provoking. Our teacher encouraged using them in order as a way to build understanding during a lesson.
Different Types of Questions to use during lessons (with examples of how to use them)
1. Search for information
Example: What are the steps of prayer?
2. Analyze for understanding
Example: What things are appropriate to pray for?
3. Invite feelings / testimony
Example: What are your personal experiences with prayer?
4. Encourage application
Example: What will you work on this week to improve your prayers?