Module 2 - The Goals of Spiritual Learning

Teachers’ Seminar

Module 2: The Goals of Spiritual Learning

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of reading, assimilation, and application of this section of instruction, the learner should be able to:

  • Explain how spiritual learning differs from secular learning.
  • List the three major domains of spiritual learning,
  • List the three stages of development for each domain.

A rocket must be aimed in the right direction when it is launched. A slight miscalculation can make a million miles of difference in location or result in devastating loss of life at the destination. Likewise it is essential for the Sabbath School teacher to target, from the beginning, spiritual learning that deals with faith and action as well as knowledge.

The goals of spiritual learning are as different from secular learning as the experience of spiritual conversion is different from that of learning how to operate a weed eater.

It is essential for the Sabbath School teacher to target, from the beginning, spiritual learning that deals with faith and action as well as knowledge.

Secular learning recognizes that students must advance beyond information gathering to understanding, application, and evaluation of facts. Spiritual learning, however, involves yet additional domains, such as faith and action. Spiritual learning targets change in character and growth in love, faith, and conduct. The spiritual teacher must realize that they are dealing with the whole person, the entire being. “Thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character” ( In Heavenly Places, p. 164).

The need for education beyond a mere transfer of information is underscored by prophetic counsel.

This certification course identifies and teaches methods of instruction for three domains of spiritual learning:

  1. 1. The cognitive domain deals with knowledge.
  2. 2. The faith domain deals with the dynamics of the new birth.
  3. 3. The action domain deals with behavior.

All three domains must be integrated into spiritual learning, yet the course will focus on each separately for the sake of clarity.

The need for education beyond a mere transfer of information is underscored by prophetic counsel: “The lesson which Christ gave to Nicodemus is important to every teacher, to every Sabbath school worker, to every youth and child. It is certainly important that we become acquainted with the reasons of our faith, but the most important knowledge to be gained is the experimental knowledge of what it means to be born again. The great want in our Sabbath school work is the want of the light of life. All through our ranks are needed men and women who have learned at the feet of Jesus what is truth, and how to present it to others. It requires holy men, men who have humility, who are abiding in Christ, to be educators of our youth in the Sabbath school” ( Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pp. 64, 65).

The teacher needs to understand and apply principles of instruction that take into account each domain and each level of each domain for spiritual learning. Christianity is dependent upon a power outside human ability; yet spiritual learning does not take place in a vacuum. Jesus was a master teacher. The parable was one of the most advanced and effective teaching devices of His day. The spiritual teacher must employ methods that teach to each domain.

It is essential to understand methods of accessing minds and motivating people to action.

There is a sense in which knowledge, understanding, and application of Bible facts assume faith and action outcomes. The spiritual teacher, however, may unwittingly ignore vital methods that teach to the other domains and the levels of each.

Cognitive development begins with the acquisition of Bible facts or information. It progresses to an understanding of those facts, and then to application and evaluation.

Faith development begins with interest on the part of the learner and progresses to faith, and then to love.

Action development begins with imitation, then moves to practice, and finally to habit.

It is generally understood in educational circles that learning has as much to do with attitude, emotions, and belief as it does with acquisition of information. Unless teachers of spiritual education give attention to feelings and attitudes, they will not reach the desired potential for change. This is underscored by the following counsel: “If you are a converted teacher, you will be able to win, not drive; to attract, not repulse the souls for whom Christ has died” ( Testimonies on Sabbath School Work, p. 81).

For example, teachers may wish for their class members to experience a sense of urgency concerning conduct in the light of the soon return of Jesus. The teacher may attempt to hammer home the truth of the investigative judgment. Teachers may do this in an overbearing or pompous manner, condemning or ridiculing class members to the extent that the members reject the Bible truth. Teachers who approach instruction in this manner ignore the fact that it is equally essential to understand methods of accessing minds and motivating people to action. Experiential learning focuses on teaching to each level of each domain.
 

Three Domains of Spiritual Teaching

Cognitive

Faith

Action

3. Application
3. Love
3. Habit
2. Understanding
2. Belief
2. Practice
1. Information
1. Interest
1. Imitation

Seminar Evaluation

This evaluation is designed for teachers to assess their own knowledge, understanding, and application. Many teachers will wish to ask class members to evaluate them as well.

Reproduce the grid dealing with the three domains of spiritual teaching, including the three levels of each domain. Give yourself 5 points for each correct answer. Evaluate the following on a scale of 1 - 10:


1.  My teaching deals with the dynamics of faith development as well as with the acquisition of Bible facts.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

2.  My teaching deals with practical Christian living in relationship to Bible facts.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
 

3.  I am as focused on personal heart preparation as much as I am on furnishing my mind with information when I prepare to teach.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

4.  I am conscious of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit when I teach the lesson.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Add numbers from above. Possible total: 100.

Total Score: _________


Jim Kilmer
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists