Why Is There No Variety of Teaching Methods in Sunday School?

Friday 28th March, 2008

Years ago I was told that adults choose the Sunday School class to attend based on these criteria in listed order: friends already in the class, topic, teaching method, teacher, and location. Now, part of that criteria goes by the wayside in churches where curriculum studied in all adult classes is consistent (since they cannot choose by topic). And it should come as no surprise that adults would choose to attend where they have friends already in the class. After all, the friends are likely who invited them to come in the first place.

But notice the third criteria listed: teaching method. Have you ever wondered why people visit some classes and not stay while visiting others and joining? This could be a key piece of the mystery. Adults like variety, and they like to exercise their preferences. If they do not already have friends in the class, teaching method is the first option for choice.

But in most classes I have attended around the state, there is little variety. Lecture is the standard fare. Occasionally questions or discussion are thrown into the mix. Why is there no variety? I have been thinking about that question. I think there are several reasons for the lack of variety. Consider the following:

  • teachers are teaching like they were taught;
  • teachers have not been exposed to other teaching methods;
  • no one expects or holds teachers accountable to use a variety of methods;
  • a perception that lecture enables teachers to teach "more" content in the limited amount of time;
  • a perception that lecture demands less preparation time;
  • lecture, questions, and teacher-led discussion allows the teacher to be "in control;"
  • a focus on teaching rather than on learning;
  • a lack of knowledge about learners' preferred learning styles (check out Improve Learning Retention in Sunday School and Learning Styles in Adult Sunday School);
  • a focus on content rather than on application;
  • lack of creativity; and
  • lack of lesson planning together with others.

What would you add to the above list? Press Comments below and add to the conversation! I like what Kenneth Gangel said in an article entitled Thinking about Teaching Methods. Gangel said, The teacher who wishes to be really effective will be sure that his teaching is characterized by variety. In fact, the teacher's effectiveness in teaching and the effectiveness of the class in assimilation of guests can be impacted by the teacher's use of variety in teaching methods.

Look around your Sunday School. What do you see? Are most of your classes teaching the same way? What can you do to challenge your teachers to increase the variety of their teaching methods? You may want to start small--with just one teacher. Then celebrate success when you see it. Help them choose methods which best communicate the truth of God's Word to the sheep God has entrusted to them. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about teaching, check out these blog posts:

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