Individuals process information in different modes. So understanding the ways Sabbath School members process information is indispensable to facilitating meaningful class interaction.
Learning modalities are sensory channels through which we give, receive, and store information (Patricia Tutinger, The Issues: Learning Modalities, PBS Teacher Source, 2006). Particular focus relevant to the task of facilitating and providing meaningful interaction is the concept of perceptual modality.
Perceptual Modality refers to the primary ways our bodies receive and process information. So knowing our perception style enables us to seek out information in the format that we process most directly and efficiently. The common types are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic/tactile.
- Auditory learners focus on spoken messages and fall into two categories.
1. The less understood auditory learners need to hear their own voice to process information. They “talk it out” and often find themselves talking to those around them. Auditory-verbal processors or talkers tend to mutter comments to themselves and may even find themselves unintentionally talking to other members of the class. However, they are not trying to be disruptive and may not even realize they are talking. This is a strategy they employ to retain information or ideas they hear. Often we hear them say, “I hear what you’re saying.”
2. The more prevalent listeners remember things said to them and process the information on their own. They may even carry on mental dialogues and determine how to continue by recalling the words of others.
Since auditory learning takes place best through listening, activities that contribute to effective internalization of biblical principles may include: (a) asking the class to read Bible texts clearly and correctly; (b) creating brief dialogues or interactive passages from significant parts of the lesson that members read aloud; and (c) listening to and reacting to audiotaped key passages taken from the Sabbath School lesson.
Through the Holy Spirit’s leading the facilitator can blend individual preferences, thereby providing an atmosphere of spiritual growth and maturity essential to establishing a vibrant relationship with Christ.
- Visual learners prefer seeing what they are learning. Pictures and images help them understand ideas and information better than verbal explanations. They find it helpful to see the person speaking. Visually oriented people often say, “I see what you’re saying.” Employing their imagination, visually dominant class members create mental images of what the speaker is describing or explaining. According to Musselman, “through the sense of sight we can find 80 times as many points of contact as by any other of the senses, and 12 times as many as through all the others.” Further, “it has been estimated that from 75 to 90 percent of what is learned is learned through the eye.” We therefore have to underscore the value of learning through the sense of sight. Habakkuk, the prophet of God, said: “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it” (Hab. 2:2, KJV).
Since visual learners learn best by reading or watching, pictures, objects, drawings, sketches, diagrams, charts, maps, video and PowerPoint illustrations, and other visuals enhance effective learning. Facilitators will do best to remember the old Chinese proverb: A picture’s worth a thousand words.
- Kinesthetic/tactile learners are usually treated as one group since they both process ideas or information through the nerve endings in the skin and also through the muscles, tendons, and joints. They want to sense the position and movement of what they are working on. They often say, “It just feels right to me,” or “I feel we’re moving in the right direction.” An outstanding feature of their perception reflects the cliché “Actions speak louder than words.” They learn better by doing than by merely watching. You may even hear them say: “Enough talking and looking,” “Let’s work with this stuff.” “Let’s get our hands dirty already.”
Engaging Sabbath School class members’ participation through role-playing, scenarios, and simulations of events will provide meaningful discussion of the lesson. As they portray situations involving the characters—their challenges, joys, disappointments, aspirations, successes and failures—the lesson becomes alive and Bible principles meaningful. As such, this will require, on occasion, unstructured setting and venue; for example, meeting outdoors to allow space and prevent creating distractions. Time is therefore essential, since members need to be informed of their assignments early to ensure preparation, mastery, and order.
Productive, Interactive Sabbath School Class
As a rich market of intellect, talents, and energy, the Sabbath School offers vast opportunity for meaningful interaction to enhance love for and loyalty to God and His Word. A personal knowledge and thorough understanding of the class members’ dominant senses and their preferences for maximum learning will yield profitable results. Through the Holy Spirit’s leading the facilitator can blend these individual preferences, thereby providing an atmosphere of spiritual growth and maturity essential to establishing a vibrant relationship with Christ.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists