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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Growth By Question

If you are a leader who has more knowledge in your particular domain of expertise than those whom you are leading, you may be tempted, in an effort to help them grow in their knowledge, to tell them what you know.  That is mostly how we are taught K – 12 and in many cases in university education.  In post graduate work that changes some at the masters’ level, I cannot speak authoritatively at levels beyond that, but my sense is that the doctoral level is more interactive.  While this is academically effective, in the workplace or small group study I am convinced that method loses effectiveness.
If you are trying to help your child or a friend learn, what is the best way?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The better way I feel is to ask questions that lead people to examine the material from a different angle or challenge their presuppositions.  Rather than telling people what you know ask questions that lead them to consider the data differently or that leads them to the conclusions that you have drawn.  For adult learners particularly this is a more effective means of transferring knowledge.  The reason, it is interactive, participatory.  Rather than listening to a lecture, they are sharing their understanding.  This has multiple advantages.  First, by sharing they are having to codify their thought in a way that others can understand their position.  Second, the others in the group will ask clarifying questions that challenge the speaker further.  Third, as the leader you get to listen and evaluate the quality of thought and communication of the speaker and are able then to craft questions that push their learning.

This is not easy.  But it is well worth the effort.  We are tasked as Christian leaders – dads are leaders by definition – to pass on what we know, 2 Timothy 2:2.  This applies to our kids and further to those whom God brings into our sphere of influence.  It is an assignment.  Not just for pastors, teachers, etc. but for all believers.  In Matthew 28:18 – 20 and John 17:20, 20:21 Christ through His commission and prayer includes us in that assignment.

Using questions to help people see more in the Bible is a much more effective way of helping them grow.  It empowers their learning.