We Know Better
Teaching is more than standing at the front of a room and talking. Every teacher knows this, intellectually, but how many do something about it? How many of us engage with kinesthetic learning week to week, or even any kind of consistent basis? We’ve all read the books on learning styles. We’ve all heard the admonishments against neglecting kinesthetic learning. Kinesthetic learning is a valid and necessary method for adults as well as children. LeFever sums up the problem nicely, “Movement in a class setting is great if you happen to be in preschool or in the very early elementary classes. But as classes begin to get more and more traditional, these realistic, practical, matter-of-fact students may be lost.”
Practical Tips for Biblical Studies Courses
Baptists, and I am one, consider ourselves “people of the Book.” Those of us who teach the Bible to adults become very focused on literary techniques and verbal-based elements. Our teaching reflects this focus, as our primary resources is a book, rather than rocks in geology or chemicals in a chemistry class. If we are lazy, this is the only area from which we draw teaching techniques, thus leaving kinesthetic learning by the wayside. In order to encourage you towards incorporating kinesthetic learning in Biblical studies courses, I have compiled the following, which is like an annotated bibliography, but it consists of examples applicable to Biblical studies.
Have your learners create an in-class drama or video presentation on the life of a biblical figure discussed in your class. Do your learners often have trouble understanding exactly how the Davidic monarchy fell apart? A dramatic video presenting the dissolution of the monarchy might go a long way in helping them put together who did what to whom and why.
Divide up the history of your entire course so that each learner is assigned one piece (whether that’s the length of a single king’s reign, or a century, etc.) and has to create a detailed visual timeline of that period. For example, one learner creates a timeline for the life of David up until the murder of Uriah and abduction of Bathsheba while another creates a timeline for the life of David from the Uriah/Bathsheba episode until David’s death. When your students turn in their timelines, display them on the walls of your classroom such that they can look at the whole timeline, from beginning to end.
Do you find it difficult to lecture on the Tabernacle or Temple and their rituals? Re-create one or both of these structures in the classroom. One way to do so is to simply tape off the room or another space such that you can walk from point to point while your students watch or walk with you. You get to show them exactly what is going on, and you get to make the subject more immediately relevant. Another way is to bring materials for the class to work together to build a model to scale.
Here is an idea you can use with any subject. Have your learners create a quiz on the day’s subject. Have them model it after the way you typically write your own quizzes. Then, have them offer their questions aloud and have class discussion over them.
Create a sign-up list for a “Visual Aid Assistant” with one opening per class session. Set up in the room early, connecting a laptop to the internet and projector. When that session’s “VAA” arrives, he or she is responsible for looking up your lecture topic, characters, books, places, tools, weapons, etc., on Google or Flickr and sliding that picture from the laptop over to the projector as a kind of running visual aid commentary.
As I wrote about on previous posts, utilize gaming in your classroom to break up the lecture and give your students something to do. Have them rearrange the chairs around tables, have them get up and sit in a new place, then set up the game and let them have at it. Games should probably last up to 45 minutes, at the most.
Be creative! Don’t rely on monotony, and don’t neglect kinesthetic learning. Do Google searches for creative/kinesthetic learning methods. Your classes will be better for it!
 Marlene D. LeFever, Learning Styles (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook Publishing, 1995), 58.