At Teach One Reach One Ministries, we are constantly examining the research and trends in secular education to determine if there is anything that can help us be more impactful in teaching the Bible to young people.
One of the more recent trends in secular education is the idea of a flipped classroom. Not to go too deeply into the entire process, flipping is basically giving students the bulk of the responsibility for their learning. Assignments to be completed at home are often longer and more intense. Instead of the teacher teaching students the lessons through lectures, they serve more as tutors – giving what normally would have been done as homework in class as a way of checking student progress and catching any issues or problems students are having with the material.
While some of the downfalls of this method for a weekly Bible class are rather obvious, there are a few pieces of the flipped classroom model that could prove beneficial in a Bible class.
- We should be clear about the need for students to take personal responsibility for their spiritual education. I would imagine it is a rare child or even teen who has been regularly reminded by their Bible class teacher the importance of taking personal responsibility for their spiritual education and their relationship with God. We need to be more vocal and realistic about what can actually be accomplished in an hour or so a week – especially when the optimum is a minimum of fourteen hours a week.
- We need to spend more class time identifying where young people are struggling with their faith and finding ways of helping/tutoring them so they can be more successful. Let’s be honest. Unless a young person is proactive in seeking help, we rarely know when they are struggling with their faith or what those struggles are. We rely on someone making generalizations and hope it applies to most of the young people we are teaching.
- We need to give young people more interesting and helpful resources they can use to grow outside of class. Yes, reading the Bible is a must, but young people often need help understanding how what they read applies to their lives – especially when the culture around them tells them God is outdated or worse. They need access to books, articles, videos – anything that can help them grow spiritually. Then they need lots of encouragement to take advantage of those resources in their free time.
- We need to spend more time covering the concepts, scriptures and stories unfamiliar or confusing to young people and less time telling them the same 20 or 30 stories over and over. Most kids raised in a Church home, enter adulthood having only been exposed to about 10-20% of what is in the Bible – and some of that they don’t understand well enough to use. No wonder they struggle.
- We need to find ways for young people to spend more one on one time being mentored by mature Christians. Individual attention to students is one of the selling points of a flipped classroom. In an hour a week, it isn’t very feasible. Providing young people with highly engaged mentors can give them the extra help they need navigating this world as a Christian.
- We need to find ways to encourage young people to pursue their passions in personal ministry. If you understand the flipped classroom, you may be scratching your head on this one. The flipped classroom promotes encouraging students to manage their own education. In many circles, this is interpreted differently. We believe young people need to learn basic skills in ways that work best for them – especially by learning them through the lens of their interests, gifts and passions. Your Bible students need to be thinking about their personal lives and ministries. How can what they are learning in the Bible be best applied in their lives and using the gifts God has given them to serve Him? While some things will look the same in any life, others will look a little different depending upon the gifts and opportunities God gives each one.
Is the flipped model appropriate for a Bible class? Probably not completely, but taking a few of its ideas and using them can make our Bible classes more effective for the young people in them.