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Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Amy.G, Feb 5, 2012.

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  1. Amy.G

    Amy.G
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    I'm teaching Sunday School now to the ladies class and they are used to a lecture type of teaching but I want to engage them in discussion. I'm having a hard time with this. They don't seem to want to have interaction and I don't know if they just don't want to draw attention to themselves or maybe they just don't know their bible well enough to discuss the scripture. They're all very sweet and I love them. They are also mostly seniors.

    Any ideas on how I can encourage interaction and discussion?
     
  2. Scarlett O.

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    I feel your pain, sister. :thumbs:

    I've been teaching the senior adult women for 15 years now and the first several months, it was like PULLING teeth to get them to participate in a lesson. I was lecturing and hated it. BLECH!

    I thought:
    • Am I just that pitiful of a teacher????
    • Are they just that ignorant of the Bible???
    • Are they just that shy???
    I was dead wrong on all counts. These older women are not accustomed to a discussion on the Bible. Sunday School was always a lecture. And they thought my questions were rhetorical. And .... with them being in their 70's, 80's, and 90's, I had to get used to the fact that they don't recall facts as readily as they used to.

    I have found over the past 15 years that these blessed women have FORGOTTEN more about the Bible than I currently know. :applause:

    Recall questions do not always work well with the elderly. So, I started asking a lot of open-ended questions instead of recall questions. Like on a lesson on Jesus throwing out the money changers in the Temple I would ask "if Christ were here today what would he throw out of our homes and churches that are not in accordance with God's will?"

    Or I might ask questions where they are multiple answers that are correct. Such as "What are some things that we as Christians should be doing in our daily lives to strenghthen our relationship with God?" And when I get an answer - I would ask them to clarify - "You are right, Mrs. Ettie, and why do you think that's so very important"?

    And I ask them to give examples from their lives that relate to the lesson. I might ask, "What do you do with a grandchild that might show a spirit of being ungrateful?" or "How can you as a senior adult wife help these young wives in our church to become better wives and mothers?"

    It took a while for me to draw them out. And I still have to purposefully coax them sometimes. And I'm always so glad that I do because they have so much that is of value to share and I have learned much from them.

    It'll take some work - their generation was trained and raised on the lecture system of Sunday School.

     
  3. Amy.G

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    Thank you Scarlett! I've been asking questions, but I think I need to ask different ones as you've suggested. :thumbs:

    Today I asked them "why did God want Israel to be different than the surrounding pagan nations, why did He care what they ate or what they wore?" Silence. LOL
     
  4. Tom Butler

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    Try calling on one of the ladies by name.
     
  5. Scarlett O.

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    HA! Today, I prefaced that same lesson by saying that what we were about to read in the dietary laws was not for us literally to obey, but were laws for the nation of Israel, and that it was still the Word of God and we should still read it for applications and then ...

    ...one of them asked me what you asked your ladies. She said "Why did God want just them to be so different?" I told them that he picked them in particular to be a holy nation so that He could produce a Messiah from a holy people.
     
  6. agedman

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    Scarlett O has some excellent thinking. I would also include the following:

    First the setting needs to be addressed. Depending on the size and room, try not to have anyone “hiding” behind someone else. Sitting in a circle is good, but if that isn’t workable, grouping the seats so there are no squares will help. That is, make the rows curve so that the group is not in rank and file. Then you also sit down. Do not stand unless you are going to write a very brief note on the board – and do that sitting down if possible. If the group is too large to sit at their level, get a stool.

    People respond to folks standing to talk as one being lectured, and no one talks during a lecture. Folks who are sitting are less threatening, and more engaging.

    Second, immediately engage the folks in a casual conversation in which you express the need for their input. It could be a recipe, color coordination, flower selection,... Valentines is coming, perhaps ask why red, white and chocolate seem to be the colors of both Christmas and Valentines? Depending on how old these older ladies are, they might be highly opinionated, and this will give you great insight into the approach you will want to take in the lessons.

    Again, Right from the start ask questions that the folks are comfortable answering about their lives and living. However, when you bridge to the lesson, change to rhetorical style questions.

    Our Lord engaged folks by asking rhetorical questions and stories (parables) that made the point.

    If you use an outline or handout, make the rhetorical questions the major points.

    This will immediately call for an internal response without presenting the “put on the spot” emotional feelings that can distract and hinder the shy elder by being vulnerable.

    Stay at the lowest parts of Blooms Taxonomy: http://www2.honolulu.hawaii.edu/facdev/guidebk/teachtip/questype.htm

    As you base the lesson upon questions in which the answer is obvious, and you are giving support to the obvious answers, you are modeling and presenting appropriate thinking strategies that will engage the listener and gradually open them to become used to even considering a response.

    As the weeks progress and the folks get used to you asking questions, gradually work up the scale into higher thinking questions and also slowly move the questions away from the rhetorical.

    It is most important that during these transition times, the responses given by those attending are never wrong – even if the answer given really is wrong. You are not interested in how right or how wrong an answer is, but that some oral communication is actually given!

    Pointing out a wrong answer will shut the door on any further response.

    If the answer is wrong, move to the highest levels of synthesis and evaluation and draw the listeners to draw their own conclusions in nonthreatening and supportive questions. Our Lord did this when presenting parables such as the Good Samaritan, and the workers of the field, in which the audience was presented a scenario and were drawn into the conclusion.
     
  7. Amy.G

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    That is exactly what I told them! That is soooo funny! :laugh:
     
  8. Amy.G

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    Already done. Their previous teacher always stood with a podium. I chose to sit down on their level day one.

    Excellent idea.

    I agree.


    Good suggestions. Thanks!
     
  9. DiamondLady

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    I teach women from 35 to ??? and women WANT to talk...unfortunately they grew up in an era where women didn't talk in church so you have to get them to rethink. Our group sits at tables. It's a much more relaxed setting. We painted and decorated the room to make everyone feel comfortable and homelike. Our lessons do not come out of quarterlies so there's nothing for them to sit and stare at and I don't lecture.

    We start each week with prayer requests. These ladies are prayer warriors and often have things on their hearts to share. They get a handout each Sunday (the last two weeks our lesson has been called, "It Ain't Easy Bein' Green" The top of the page had 4 questions.
    1. What are some things you've allowed to shape your self-worth?
    2. How have those feelings affected the outcome of your life?
    3. If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
    4. What have you failed to do because you felt ill-equipped or unworthy to do?

    The lesson is based on 1 Peter 2:9-10, Jeremiah 1:5, and John 15:16. We ended with 2 other verses, Ephesians 2:10, and II Corinthians 3:5 (Everyone reads scripture. We just go around the table and take turns.)

    They learn to laugh, talk, and share their hearts. Many times they don't think they're allowed to have an opinion or speak out. This was brought home to me when a precious, sweet lady (she was 92) decided to leave the Senior Adult class and come to our class. The first time she came I asked her what made her decide to leave the class she'd been a member of for 20 years. She said, "you'll let me talk." Since that day and her courageous choice all but 2 ladies (1 is the teacher's wife) have left that class and joined mine...all for the same reason.

    Some things I've learned in my 6 years teaching this group of ladies....
    1. NEVER be in a hurry. (We did a series on prayer...should have taken 12 weeks, tooks us 9 months)
    2. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. There are Sundays we do nothing but prayer requests and pray. They learn they can trust one another and can share their deepest heart desires and that they will be prayed for.
    3. Fellowship together. We get together about every two or three months and go to dinner. We opened our home one Saturday evening and had an old-fashioned weiner and marshmallow roast. They had a grand time.
    4. Study things that grow them as Christian women. About once a year I ask them what THEY would like to study. I'm always amazed at the things they want to know. (Where did all the races come from? Can Gay people go to Heaven? Can Christians drink wine? Where did the Ark of the Covenant go after Solomon's Temple and what happened to Aaron's Rod and the bowl of manna? are some good example of questions they asked). They like to dig deep and have wonderful minds.
    5. Once they START talking, they may not want to stop!!! It's wonderful when they learn that women have freedom in Christ and that they really don't have to be silent.

    I have about a five year backlog of lessons we've used. If you need any ideas let me know!
     
  10. Amy.G

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    Thanks Diamond Lady. Good suggestions! :thumbs:
     
  11. drfuss

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    I teach a mixed class with ages 60 and up. I have found if I ask questions that requires any knowledge of scripture, only two of three of them ever answer and those are sometime teachers.

    However, if i ask a question that is not based on scripture, many will have an opinion. For instance, next week I plan to ask if they think there is a difference between honesty and integrity, if so what is it? The lesson is on honesty. Another question would be: are little white lies wrong if they don't cause problems for anyone? How about praising your grandchildren for something they did, even though you don't think they did good?

    To get things started, ask something that does not requires any knowledge of scripture. They may not answer scripture based questions for fear of showing their loss of memory or having a senior moment. Phrase the questions by asking what they think, rather than asking for specific information. Good luck.
     
  12. Amy.G

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    Apparently we're doing the same study. :)

    I had also planned to ask if those "little white lies" are wrong. You know what they say about great minds? :laugh:

    I think you're right about not having much scripture knowledge. I think that is common among church members, sadly.
    I've also been encouraging them to read and study their bibles. Today I told them that coming to church is wonderful, but if you only ate 2 meals a week you would be malnourished. So also our spirits will be malnourished if we don't take in the word of God, and take it in daily.
     
  13. drfuss

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    I have found that most people in my class are not really interested in scripture as we are here on BB. As one experienced teacher told me: Don't worry about repeating small things that were covered last Sunday; most have probably forgot. Or as one woman said, " I really am not interested in studying scripture as you are; if I want to know something, I'll ask my husband who is interested in scripture.

    You have to teach the people in your class as they are; don't assume that they are as interested as you are. I suggest that you don't push too hard in trying to get these old people to change. If these old people are not interested in reading and studying their Bibles after all these years, you probably will not make much progress in changing them. In teaching a class, you have to accept the class as they are and don't get frustrated when they don't respond as you would like.
     
  14. Scarlett O.

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    I do believe that one has to meet people where they are. My little ladies are very interested in scripture and they all study their lessons during the week. But then again, they were SS teachers themselves and VBS teachers for decades.
     
  15. Oldtimer

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    How do you find balance?

    Perhaps my story is the exception, rather than the rule. I returned to church, after too long an absence. Now I'm hungry for the scriptures. Hungry to study the word of God.

    Switched Sunday School classes not long ago. (Both are couples classes) In the first, most of the teaching was simply reading the quarterly with a few comments thrown in. The substitute teacher only read the quarterly out loud.

    New class is much better, as there is discussion, especially when the primary teacher conducts the class. Even with this one, the quandry that I'm in is that I don't want to "dominate" the class with my questions and opinions. Often have to sit there with my mouth closed when I want to ask "what do you mean by that?" I've seen eyebrows raised when I ask a question late in the session. Clock watchers are ready for the closing prayer, but I want to know more!

    How does am instructor find the right balance in this type situation? Does it happen very often in the classes you teach?
     
  16. HAMel

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    These older women are not accustomed to a discussion on the Bible. Sunday School was always a lecture. And they thought my questions were rhetorical.

    ...great comment Scarlett O. Great observation.

    Most all churches services of today amount to mere "lectures" and if you're Baptist it's..., "you gotta get saved, you gotta get saved, you gotta get saved, you gotta get saved".

    "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

    The word Preacher is real close to the word, Teacher.

    Lecturer doesn't seem to fit in there at all.
     
  17. freeatlast

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    I would be blessed if there was no interaction. All it does is open the door for error each one with their own wild ideas. I would not suggest such a format. I suggest that you teach the truth and have no interaction except perhaps once a month or so with a time to ask questions and you answer them not others in the class answering them.
    Keep in mind that the pulpit does not have interaction and there is a reason. You are to teach and not have the floor open to all the different ideas. All interaction does is cause confusion.
     
  18. Amy.G

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    It also gives an opportunity to correct error.
     
  19. webdog

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    What if you give them an outline or some questions to ponder a week in advance for the next study? That way they have a week to think about the lesson. Let them know you don't want it to be a lecture format, that iron sharpens iron and you would like it to be a discussion instead.
     
  20. Amy.G

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    Good idea WD. Thanks! :thumbs:
     
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