Principles of Teaching

by Joseph Miller

That Ye May Teach

Effective teaching is more than telling the students what the Bible says. Better described as guided discovery, teaching means to guide the student in discovering the answer for himself in his Bible. Keep the following principles of teaching in mind as you seek to be more effective in pointing your students to Christ.

Effective teaching must utilize the right vehicle:

• We learn 83 percent of what we know through sight.

• We learn 11 percent of what we know through hearing.

• We learn 3.5 percent of what we know through smell.

• We learn 1.5 percent of what we know through touch.

• We learn 1 percent of what we know through taste.

Effective teaching must encourage retention:

• We retain 10 percent of what we read.

• We retain 20 percent of what we hear.

• We retain 30 percent of what we see.

• We retain 50 percent of what we see and hear.

• We retain 70 percent of what we say.

• We retain 90 percent of what we say as we do, see, or hear something.

Effective teaching encourages class participation:

• A good teacher will speak no more than 50 percent of the time; the other 50 percent will be spent listening to discussion and class participation. Research and exploration will also be utilized. Encourage the students to express their faith here, then to others.

• Ask questions to encourage thinking, reading, studying, pondering, reasoning, and Bible searching.

• Discussion is a valuable technique. But it is not to be "open" discussion where you are asking everyone's opinion. Teaching is to be guided discovery.

• Let the students ask questions. But do not lose control of the teaching aim for the lesson.

Effective teaching uses a variety of teaching methods:

• Lecture is the best way to communicate the overview of the Bible passage content. . . . But lecturing may produce passive learners who do not retain the broadcast "seed."

• Group discussion can provide a collection of thoughts and opinions that can move the students to the stated lesson aim. It can give the teacher good insight into the student's level of understanding.

• Questions and answers are appropriate at times. Be sure the questions are clearly stated and directed toward the lesson aim.

• Brainstorming can encourage creativity and application.

• Case studies may be used effectively to present a life situation that presents a problem. Adult learning is usually problem-oriented.

Effective teaching of the Bible seeks biblical purposes:

• The philosophy of the Bible is to teach people the purposes of God in His plan for the ages.

• Persistence is necessary to see the success of students becoming doers of the Word.

• The plan for the teaching time should seek to make God's Word the central factor in each person's life.

• The participants are to be disciples who are seeking by the Spirit of God to duplicate Christ in their own lives as well as in the lives of others.

• The purpose of teaching is to seek learning that is life-molding.

The above excerpts are from Discovering Life through Fellowships in Focus, (espousing an adult small-group, participatory Sunday school format) published by Discovering Life Ministries, and available at, or at

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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