Posted by: whereintheworldismike | November 22, 2015

Lead the Church Now! Pt. 8


This is the scene right outside the window of this youth training facility where we as a mission have been discussing following Christ more closely


and starting people movements to Christ. We believe this is the strategy that will finally lead to breakthrough in Japan. We must think in new ways if we want to move out from the repeated mistakes of the past.Bandai.jpg

Our teaching methods must better reflect those of Jesus and others who came before. Teaching primarily by lecture is a relatively recent development and has helped lead to the demise of the Church in Europe and the precipitous decline of the Church in North America.

In this post I will talk about inductive teaching and Socratic discussion–two approaches to teaching that engages the learner in their learning and lead to discovery learning with the accompanying motivation to apply what has been learned.

Socratic Discussion

“To study without thinking is futile. To think without studying is dangerous                                                                     – Confucius, Analects

“one of the things we might have too much of, complicating our educating, was teaching, for the reason that more responsibility should be placed on the student and less on the teacher—as long, of course, as we understand what is meant by ‘responsibility.’”               – Richard A. Riesen, PhD, The Academic Imperative


Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy: “the method of teaching in which the master imparts no information, but asks a sequence of questions, through answering which the pupil eventually comes to the desired knowledge.”


Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary: “the use of questions, as employed by Socrates, is meant to ‘develop a latent idea, as in the mind of a pupil.’”


Modern variations of Socrates’ method can be characterized simply as “discussion-based teaching.”


Examples of teaching materials that use induction or discussion-based teaching:


– Kay Arthur Bible Studies help those who have repeatedly heard something important but never really grasped it. This works across cultures, but will usually be met by initial resistance from those who have had a steady diet of primarily lecture for a prolonged time.

– Church-Based Theological Education (BILD International, Antioch School)

In Japan, I explain it to pastors this way:

This discussion-based teaching method gets the brain of the learners moving, then their mouths start moving, then their hands and feet. Discussion-based learning that includes peer teaching results in discovery learning and that includes intrinsic motivation to apply what the learner “owns.”

As a teaching method, the Socratic method gives us two things: first, students take more of the responsibility for their learning. Second, they discuss the topic to be learned. They learn the topic well enough to discuss—even teach it.


7 Design Steps

  1. Who? Participants, leaders—how many?
  2. Why? The situation calling for the learning event
  3. When? The time frame
  4. Where? The site
  5. What? Content
  6. What for? Achievement-based objectives: Learners will have…
  7. How? Learning tasks and materials

Teacher prepares three types of questions prior to group discussion:

1.) Intersentence, Literal, or Opening (create 3 of these)
- a general question that directs students into the text
- an introductory or exploratory question related to a topic that is easy for students to locate in the text

2.) Text, Analysis, or Core (create 3 or 4 of these)
- a question about specific content, theme, or main idea
- an inquiry that challenges students to examine a central position
- a request to interpret or explore a passage in the text
- a “how…?” or “why…?” question
- a challenge to students to compare and contrast characters, motivations, tones, etc.
- an examination of vocabulary or interesting phrases

3.) Beyond Text, Evaluative, or Closing (create 3 or 4 of these) – a question that establishes the relevance of the text to students – an inquiry that connects the text with the real world
- an application of the text to self

– a comparison of the text with real life descriptions,

Important: You must use these three types of questions in this order. This allows the discussion to begin in a relatively non-threatening manner and allows students’ confidence to build as more difficult questions are asked.

Developing good questions is essential to an effective Socratic Discussion.

Not that the Socratic method lessens the requirement for professional diligence, or in any way makes teaching easier. Rather, responsibility takes a different shape as the teacher reevaluates what his job is, seeing it less as worrying about how to “get the subject across” or ”make it interesting” and more as coming to grips with the substance of the matter at hand and directing his students to it, by means of questions or comments that will keep the discussion moving and on track (Riesen, 95).


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