How do adults learn differently than children, and what does this mean for teaching and learning the faith? Today we’ll be taking a crash course on how to approach teaching adults. Our instructor is the Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen.
How do adults learn differently than children, and what does this mean for teaching and learning the faith? Today we’ll be taking a crash course on how to approach teaching adults. Our instructor is the Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen.
Elizabeth Pittman (11s):
Welcome to the Concordia publishing house podcast, where we consider everything in the light of Jesus Christ was the same yesterday, today and forever. I'm your host, Elizabeth Pittman. How do adults learn differently than children? And what does this mean for teaching and learning the faith today? We'll be taking a crash course on how to approach teaching adults. Our instructor for the day is the Reverend dr. Pete Jerkin. Welcome back to the podcast, Dr. Pete.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (42s):
Thanks, for having me on it's a, it's a pleasure to be back.
Elizabeth Pittman (45s):
We're glad to have you back the last time you were here, you were just nearly Reverend Pete Jerkin. And today we have your title has gotten an upgrade to doctor. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and what your specialty is?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (1m 4s):
Yeah, so I've always been very interested in encouraging others and teaching the faith. That's been kind of my driving passion, teaching the word to people and encouraging others to do that. So I've been honored, can create a publishing house to well, I'm working on these materials for the church to also work on my doctor of education, focusing mostly on adult education. My study primarily was on coming alongside a group of pastors in the area who very graciously allowed me to come alongside them to observe them.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (1m 39s):
I spent, you know, seven months, you know, observing them in their Bible class teaching after a while of, of observing them. I did some workshops on adult learning theory because, you know, they hadn't really received much training in adult learning theory, especially, you know, since seminary, but even then, you know, it's time is limited. So it training and adult learning theory and then see what impact that training had on their teaching after. So it was all qualitative, you know, just a lot of taking notes and, and all that.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (2m 11s):
I I'm honored that they participated in this study. It was just all, you know, voluntary. And I think in the end, you know, learned a few things about how it else learned and how we teach adults and how we go about leading and facilitating this lifelong learning of the faith with adults. So it was an honor to do, but now I'm done and that's good. And I get to come back here and continue to engage in this teaching and encouraging others in teaching the faith as well.
Elizabeth Pittman (2m 41s):
So today's topic is right in your wheelhouse.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (2m 44s):
I love this stuff and you'll have to cut me off probably talking, cause I could just talk all day about this and trust me and, you know, ask my wife. She served me talk about this all the time too. So yeah, probably cut me off, but I, I love this topic. I think it's critical and it's super important. And I think it's one of those kinds of potential pressure points, pain points for a lot of people that, you know, we have a lot of adults in our congregations that are really unengaged in the learning process. And hopefully by talking about this, you know, you'll be able to get some ideas and different approaches or ways of thinking about adults as learners that can of help us all a better wrap our minds around that this, this amazing Epic opportunity, but also challenge in teaching the faith to all or help equipping everyone to be lifelong learners of the faith focusing, especially on adults.
Elizabeth Pittman (3m 36s):
So you mentioned unengaged learners and I would suspect that that's a pretty healthy percentage of the average congregation. What is it that drives these adults and drives probably isn't the right word, but what are some of the factors that might cause a person to be unengaged in faith learning?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (3m 59s):
Well, okay. That's a, that's a loaded, a loaded topic. I, I gotta just start here and I think this is really important and it's critical as we talk about faith learning at any given time to really kind of define the terms and what we do and what we cannot do. We, we got to understand beginning that, you know, our faith is about Jesus Christ and what he has done, the gift of salvation. That's one for us, how he has called us into the faith. And it's all about, you know, what he has done for us.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (4m 31s):
It's all about Christ. And that is amazing. And our coming to faith comes via the means of grace. That's the spirit using God's word and sacrament to draw us into faith. That is the work of God working through his means of grace in our lives, as we receive it, that gives us faith that creates and sustains faith. So when we talk about faith learning, we got to begin with that overarching understanding and we know it to be true as Lutherans, but let's not lose lose sight of that, that you know, that the giving and sustaining of faith is a gift of God working through his means of grace word and sacrament.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (5m 13s):
It is God who gives the growth. But when we talk about the task of teaching the faith, I think we can kind of take a cue from Paul as we talk about, you know, how God gives the growth, but the, the job of the teacher, the vocation of the teacher of the faith, be it a parent in the home or a pastor in a congregation or different faith leaders in their different vocations is to help cultivate that, to use the gifts and talents that God has given us in our vocations as teachers to help cultivate that learning experience in that growth.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (5m 43s):
So, you know, God alone gives the faith and grows the faith through his word because it's all about Christ and what he's done for us, our job is to help cultivate as best we can, that learning environment and the soil and the people with the gifts God has given us to do that. So that said, as we talk about the task of cultivating the lives of people and working in the teaching mission and helping people to learn, what is it about adults?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (6m 13s):
How should we approach adults? And what is it that we so often miss? Because again, it's a pain point. Here is something I've come across in my studies. Now, again, my studies, like I've said before, I have almost entirely in, in the field of education have been in educational psychology. And I realized that there are many who are skeptical of educational psychology, and rightly so, because many of the assumptions of educational psychology come from a humanist point of view that said, you know, as we go about our lives as teachers of the faith, I think it's important for us to pay attention to the world around us and the natural world and learn what we can through these and then apply it to our lives, through a Lutheran worldview, keeping scripture as the source and the norm, but then using our gifts and talents in, in kind of distilling and understanding the best, what we can about what science tells us about how people learn.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (7m 9s):
So again, second, second point when it comes down to it. I think our main struggle is that we have kind of a monolithic way of thinking about all people and how they learn. There's a word called pedagogy that we kind of use as short hand for the art and science of teaching. But what the word pedagogy actually means is kind of the art and science of leading children.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (7m 40s):
Now, I know, you know, we tend to use as a blanket term, but I think it kind of shows something about our assumptions when we're teaching people, is that we kind of assume that there's one way to teach and that everyone's all in kind of one spot. What works for teaching children should also work for what we do. One more teaching adults and youth, but we run into this, this big problem in our society, especially that, you know, you go through the school system and you learn and you learn, you learn. And then when you're done with the school system, people kind of fall off the face of the planet.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (8m 14s):
In most of our congregations, you know, you can easily have 30, 40% of the children who are in the church membership role showing up to a Sunday school or youth group. But it's more likely that you're about to run to, you know, 10 to 20% of your adults. It's like something happens when they are out of the school system that, you know, they kind of stopped showing up. I'm part of the thing we should think about is let's not think in terms of everyone learns exactly the same way.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (8m 47s):
I mean, everyone learns from the word of God. Absolutely. But the approaches and the strategies we use have to take into account that people are not just all learning one way, but we've got to think of it in turn. Instead in terms of like a continuum on one end is pedagogy and the pedagogical approaches that we know from, you know, learning in schools and what we experienced as children. Now, I know these are gross over generalizations. So I apologize to my learners cause this isn't, it doesn't apply for everyone.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (9m 20s):
It's kind of stereotypical, but I think it's an important to kind of lay the base on one. And you have the pedagogical approach, the art and science of teaching children. On the other end, you have the Andrew <inaudible> approach, which is kind of where I did a lot of my field of study, which is kind of a play on the term of the art and science of leading adults, andragogy or andragogy, the art and science of leading adults. And so everyone is somewhere on the spectrum and the approaches you use on the pedagogical side and the approaches used on the Andrew logical sides.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (9m 52s):
Everyone is somewhere on that and at different stages in life. So, okay. What do I mean by this pedagogical side? I mean, think about what you, what life was like when you were a young student and begins with the assumption in many of our schools that, that our, our, and in our learning environments that you'll learners are rather dependent when they are young. I mean, everyone's going back to school. Learners are rather dependent. We are all dependent on God's word. Absolutely. That never changes. But when I say dependence, it's dependence on the teacher and the structure and the system for learning at this point for people who are usually young learners using the pedagogical approach, or kind of assuming that they don't really have the tools for being self directed.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (10m 36s):
And so when you're teaching them, it's very direct kind of teaching it's, here's what you need to know. They're assuming you don't have very much life experience to pull from which usually they don't. I mean, everyone varies in degree, but pedagogical approach assume people don't have a lot of life experience. The pedagogical approach also generally assumes that people have a self concept of being dependent learners. You don't tell me what I need to learn. Also, something we run into with the pedagogical approach is the idea of you need to learn this.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (11m 8s):
Now you might not use it now you'll use it later on in life. But if you learn this, now you'll use it later. And I'm sure Elizabeth, you're running into this with, you know, junior high now, high school, you know, that kind of thing is why do I need to learn this? And the approach is usually, well, you'll need it later.
Elizabeth Pittman (11m 26s):
Well, and I think that can cause some issues for adults, because if we have come along that, and you know, I might sit here and say, I had to suffer through algebra and I have never used algebra. I mean, I think some adults might run the risk of what, why do I need to know this now? Is it going to be useful? And I think that's kind of where you're going here is that with adults, they have those life experiences. So the teaching needs to hone in on how the topic that's being taught applies to those versus the first time.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (12m 1s):
Right? Absolutely. Absolutely. Is that, that the pedagogical approach makes these assumptions about, about the learner. And this also includes things like your main role when you are a kid for a lot of kids from pedagogical approach, your main role as being kind of a professional student. That's, that's your main role in life. You've got your family, got your friends, get your sports in, in cases where, you know, children have a lot of brokenness in their lives. Oftentimes at a young age, they have to assume more of a role of being a leader in the house. Right. And you see that. And it, when that breaks down, you know, the role of the student kind of breaks down as well.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (12m 36s):
But you know, kind of just using general language, you know, if you are using the pedagogical approach or thinking, you know, main role is the student and they're motivated more by external factors, you know, grades and getting, you know, lunch tickets and all that sort of thing is kind of what motivates them. Okay. So like you said, Elizabeth, that's, that's the pedagogical approach. And we tend to use that for kids. This can also be useful in many cases for adults and teaching adults as well. Don't get me wrong. This can be a useful approach, but the Andrew logical approach, which is like, if you're thinking a continuum, a scale, that's one extreme kind of stereotyped and then the other, and as the Andrew Goggle approach, which begins with the assumption that adults, many adults, especially those that are more developed in their lives and their thinking have gone through the educational process are more independent learners.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (13m 27s):
Again, we are all dependent on the word of God, but they are less dependent or at least they have a, they think of themselves as less dependent on a teacher to learn what they want to learn,
Elizabeth Pittman (13m 37s):
Because we can fact check the teacher with the phone in our pocket, if we want to right then.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (13m 43s):
And you have, especially in like in our context, the American system, I mean, when you are done with school, it's like, I don't want, you don't need to, I don't need to go back to school. I'm done, I'm out. Don't give me this formal education anymore. I can figure it out on my own. And so if you're taking that extreme end of the andragogy approach, there are other assumptions we should have about adults and, and Malcolm Knowles, who was a researcher who did a lot of kind of putting this all together and kind of made the term, Andrew God, your andragogy popular came up with essentially six assumptions we should have on the far end of the andragogy circle approach.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (14m 18s):
That mega definition between the assumptions of teaching children and the assumptions of teaching adults. And so th the six assumptions of andragogy and not all adults are here, but I think we should start when teaching or approaching adults more with this in mind, right? This is where we should kind of start. And then we can always dial it back. Remember, it's a continuum, a sliding scale. We can always dial it back. But first of all, the adults need to know. And the assumption goes that adults want to know why, or they need to know why something's important before undertaking to learn it.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (14m 50s):
Which, which is, I think we see it in a lot of our congregational teaching is, you know what I'm saying? You know, come to a Bible class and we're going through Luke, but we're not talking about why that's important in our communication for many that's off putting. So they're thinking, well, why would I need to know this? It's another formal looking class. That's not the case across the board. There's always going to be learners who learn for the sake of learning. But when we're approaching adults, I think in many cases know why do I need to know this? Why is this important need to know where, you know, with children, when they're in like a formal education with the school, it's kind of, I'm going to tell you, you need to know this and you need to learn it because it's part of the curriculum.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (15m 29s):
And the second one is the role of experience that adults, we got to assume that adults come with more experience than youth do or children do. And you know, and that's totally true that adults, we tend to think of them as like one group of people, but in our congregations and our society. I mean, it is a huge group of people without a huge right. Wide ranging variety of experiences. So they come to the learning experience with experience. So everyone's at a different level, but they also want to share their experiences.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (15m 60s):
Let's say you're finding like Bible classes and stuff like that. I mean, I've noticed this is that people desire, not everyone, but many want to share their experiences. If we're talking about a topic, they want to have to share that story of what happened in their life, because this is just adults come with experience and they want to share that. And they want to use that. The third kind of assumption is self concept. So they have a self concept of being more responsible for their own life and their own learning. And so in my case, you're looking at things like Bible classes and the like in teaching adults, in like a parish setting is he got to kind of honor that you don't do yourself any favors.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (16m 39s):
If you're shutting people down and being like, no, I'm the teacher, you are the student, you are the child, you are the pupil. I am the teacher and you shut people down. Mind you, you, you gotta approach everyone with the truth, right? We don't waiver on the truth, but our approach to, to honoring people in their self-concept, you'll find that they want to think of themselves as being more in charge of their own learning. And the way we talk to them, communicate with them is super important. And you'll find this in just about any congregation.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (17m 9s):
I imagine you probably run into just about any teacher of the faith, pastor DCE, Deaconess, or lay leader. You've probably said something at one time to a student or an adult learner in like a Bible class or a small group, you send it to them, kind of hurt their feelings because it made them feel like you didn't honor them as a learner. And they never showed up again.
Elizabeth Pittman (17m 30s):
I get that where I I've experienced this on my own. And in settings where the leader says something very like, you will do this right now. And I'm like, wait a minute. I'm not comfortable doing that. Or like, you know, sit down and turn it, turn and this right now, or raise your hand. You're on the spots. You will do this right now because I said, so, and that that's going to get me like to back up real quick and I will shut down at that point because that's not how.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (17m 60s):
Right. Right. And so, I mean, like we can use a variety of teaching techniques and, and I'm, I'm the guilty guy. Who's always like, Oh everyone turn and talk. But how we approach the people that don't want to do that, the people that refuse to do that from an Andrew Goggle standpoint, we just got to understand that we got to honor people as learners as they are because we're adults, we're not children. We're adults. We make more decisions in life, which leads to point number four of, of andragogy readiness to learn.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (18m 31s):
And the assumption of this goes that for most adults, they come ready to learn things that apply directly to their roles in life, more than, than, than children do. Again, if you're thinking from a straight pedagogical model on the other side of this spectrum, you know, that the main role of a child in this kind of stereotypical, you know, world is that of a learner. You're a student, but for adults, we have a variety of roles. And you know, as Lutherans we talked about, this is vocation, right?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (19m 2s):
You got a ton of vocations. You're juggling all the time. And guess what most likely for most of our adults being a Bible class participant, isn't one of their main vocations in life. The main ones that motivate them and drive them are things like being a parent, being, being a spouse, being a homeowner. Yeah. Cause if you're a homeowner, that's a huge responsibility being a citizen, the different vocations you have in relation to your work and transportation and helping people.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (19m 32s):
I mean, these were juggling these things all the time, and these are good things. These are the ways we're talking about vocation. These are the ways that God, and, you know, rules his left hand, the kingdom as people, you know, follow, follow the law and rules and love and serve their neighbor. This is critical. And this is core to our Lutheran understanding of things. And, and one of the important things we need to remember when we're approaching adults is these are the things that motivate them for most of them. Anyway, more than just being a lifelong learner.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (20m 2s):
Some people will come just because they want to learn. And I praise the Lord for that. And I'm a lifelong learner. I love to learn for the sake of learning, but for many adults, that's just not the case. Not in the same way. They, they want to learn stuff that applies to their daily life. W w which leads, Oh, you wanna say something?
Elizabeth Pittman (20m 22s):
I was going to say it taps into the what's in it for me. And, and we're busy and we have things to do, and we know we need to do this, but you need to show me the value of how it applies to what I'm experiencing and what I'm dealing with each day. Yeah,
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (20m 34s):
Absolutely. Which leads us to number five, assumption, number five, which is orientation to learning, and it ties into readiness to learning. But it's the idea of, if I'm going to learn something, I want to know how I can use now, you know, so if I have these roles and responsibilities, these vocations in life, is there a way I can take what I've learned and apply it now, which does not mean. And again, this is something when I've talked about this with other people, does this mean that we should like jettison all our traditional Bible classes, a large traditional Bible studies, all our traditional ways of teaching adults for the sake of just doing short, you know, you know, job related or task related or problem related studies?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (21m 19s):
No, I mean, those things are good. Don't get me wrong. They, they have a definitely have a place we don't need to, but we don't need to jettison all our traditional stuff. The point of this is as we talk and as we teach, we've got to understand that the adults are gonna want to stuff they can use. And so, as you're talking about matters of the faith, and this is the amazing thing, again, I love our Lutheran heritage, our Lutheran background, our Lutheran understanding the, the, the rich depth of, of faith and doctrine and these different frameworks and things, which is fantastic.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (21m 48s):
This allows us the opportunity as we're going through a section of scripture or a topic to tap into these things. So, okay, this is how this applies to our life now in loving and serving our neighbor. I mean, catechism is amazing. I mean, the 10 commandments are just a wonderful way of helping to illustrate how God wants us to love and serve and are practicing their practical. Now, so orientation to learning is approaching adults. That's, that's something that we need to be aware of. And then number six is motivation to learn. And this one goes a little without saying, but we tend to on the pedagogical side of things, teaching children, you know, think about like grades and external things that will help you learn.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (22m 26s):
And we've got to understand that for adults, they're generally more motivated by internal motivators and factors. So for some, it's just, I want to be a lifelong learner, but another is things like I want that promotion, right. And if I take this class at the community college, if I go through the certification, then I can advance in my career. And even though there are external rewards, the motivation for doing that's more internal, I want to better myself. I want to better my situation. It's more self driven. And so with, you know, adults, it doesn't always work to say, you know, Hey, come to Bible class, I'll give you an a, I mean, I, there w why would I do that?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (23m 0s):
Right. You know, for something like a new member class, that's slightly more pedagogical because there's more, you know, people are more dependent and there's actual reward at the end, for lack of a better term. There's a, you become a new member. So in confirmation class can be a little more pedagogical, much more on the pedagogical side, because they have, you know, they don't have the knowledge and there's more direct stuff for them to learn. And there is an end goal, right? There's a confirmation, the right. So, you know, again, thinking in terms of this continuum, you got the pedagogical side on one side.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (23m 32s):
What we tend to think stereotypically of education for children, which I know there's probably educators out there that are rolling their eyes. And I get, because a lot of people are trying to, to help with this, to get past the stereotype, but there you have it, that's one extreme. And then you try to kind of move away from that. But on the other extreme, you have the Andrew logical more self directed learning types that, that come with these different, you know, we, we have to assume these different things about them as they come. And so when teaching adults, you got to understand that there is a scale, and you gotta understand that there is a continuum.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (24m 5s):
And one of the tricks is just trying to measure where your people are.
Elizabeth Pittman (24m 9s):
Well, how can I, how can a Bible study teacher do that? If, say you have, you know, anywhere from a dozen to a hundred people in your Bible study, how can you go about figuring out where everyone is, because that's necessarily going to affect how you teach the class?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (24m 26s):
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, unfortunately we're never going to be able to, in any sort of class or any sort of size, be able to tailor instruction to each single person, right. That's just, we're not going to be able to do that practically. And I go, I know I'm speaking from a pastor standpoint as a pastor myself, you know, I generally don't have that much time and you got a million other things you're juggling about what you can do. Again, just using strategies, trusting the God will do the growth, but using strategies, you know, with the gifts that we've given us is to get feedback.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (25m 3s):
I think that's one of the things that, that we run into, especially, you know, in teaching the faith that with adults, especially, we tend to do a really bad job overwhelmingly, am I getting in trouble of actually learning from the people, what they know, what they want to know and, and not just like, okay, I run to this all the time with you have a large group. Okay. What do you guys want to learn? And then like, most people don't say anything. One guy in the back raises his hand. He was always raising his hand for everything. Cause he wants to share his experiences. And then that person drives the discussion.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (25m 35s):
But I think in a more robust way of, you know, again, thinking Andrew, logically, you gotta, you've gotta think in terms of mutual planning. So do you do surveys or questionnaires with your people? Okay. What really do you want to learn everyone fill this out? Even if it's anonymous, send it in. I'm going to spend some time looking over what, what this is. Do you have a group of people that are really in tune with the needs of the people that you can consult with? Talk with? I mean, in theory, that's the idea of having like a board or something like that that doesn't always work. You don't need to make it formal, but even, you know, something, you know, like an action team or a group of people that, you know, okay, we've talked, I've talked with my friends, this is what's really going on in our lives.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (26m 15s):
These are things that are really concern us. It's getting that feedback and it could be something as simple as doing surveys. It just simple. Okay. What are your main struggles in life right now? I mean, even in a Bible class or a Bible study just first day, take five minutes, everyone write it down. This isn't going, I'm not throwing this out to the group and having the same person that says everything it, but everyone can be anonymous and get in. And we're gonna start talking about this. I found, you know, again, it was really interesting in, in my study, I had one of the pastor participants, a wonderful guy.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (26m 47s):
He was teaching new member class and he decided he was going to try this Andrew <inaudible> technique until at the beginning of each new member class, he came up with this on his own at beginning of each new member class. He just started the class with a question, something like when we're talking about the Holy spirit, what do you know about the Holy spirit? Okay. And everyone, you know, there was a small class, everyone, you know, you're supposed to think about it for a bit. And then people just started throwing out their answers and you wrote them all up on the whiteboard. What do you know? What do you know? We didn't know. We didn't know. So we spent five minutes writing up all of these things.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (27m 17s):
What do you know about the Holy spirit or what do you want to know about the Holy spirit? And then he did his lesson. That was the only change. But as he went through the lesson, he was able to, okay, did we address this? Did we address this? And I can tell you as someone who was an observer in that, when he started doing that, it was like, the adults felt like their self concept was honored that they were able to share their experiences. And at the same time, it was not a, well, everyone just share what you think. It was still led to facilitated by the pastor who knew and had a curriculum and had his knowledge and had, you know, how many ever years of experience teaching.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (27m 55s):
But he was able to get that input. Something as simple as that, as he was going through, it just made a huge difference. So you can't necessarily get to everyone in the individualized learning plan. Although, you know, there are probably could, but yeah,
Elizabeth Pittman (28m 12s):
Well, I think that approach definitely would help because it would, well, as you said, it honored their, their point of view, but it also probably triggered them to be more in tune with how the class was going, because they knew that they were going to ultimately get an answer to that.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (28m 28s):
Yeah, absolutely. I, you know, and, and you know, and people could feed off each other, things like that. Now, again, like I'm saying in that case, what I saw is he didn't really change from his, not really change from his, what he had planned out. He, he knew what he was going to teach. It's a new member classes, you know, kind of straight forward, you go through the doctrines and you did an amazing job, but by even just adding that little thing, it really kind of honored the adults and was able to create that feedback loop, you know?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (28m 59s):
And that, that comes to it too. When we're talking about doing education for adults or facilitating education for adults, the more we can get each learner engaged in thinking the more feedback we can create for each learner, like, you know, everyone writing something down. I know some people don't like to turn and share with each other. I, I get that. But even doing that from time to time to avoid just the large group, everything is large group. I throw out one question, I get one answer. Everyone else is off the hook.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (29m 30s):
Right. Cause when you're doing that, you're only, you only need one or two people. I mean, you remember this from school, right? Elizabeth. I mean, you've done this too. Like, you know, that one guy in the back is going to answer every time the teacher asks, which means that everyone for the most part just turns off their brain. Oh, absolutely. But ways to say, okay, no, everyone before you know, I'm going to ask this question. I want everyone to just jot down some thoughts, just write it down. Which I know for a lot of adults, they say, Oh, I don't want to do that. Cause I want to be told what to do, but say, okay, everyone, just write down your thoughts. I'm gonna ask a question, everyone, write down your thoughts to this question on little sleep, a slip of paper or an index card.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (30m 2s):
And everyone gets something down, engages everyone. And then if you say, okay, now have a little discussion at your tables about something you'll find by and large adults that, that calls on them to get a little more engaged in the process and honors their, their, their concept, their self concept honors them. Okay. I am a learner. I do have something to share.
Elizabeth Pittman (30m 21s):
So how does the makeup of the group affects that? So say you have, I could imagine that if you have a group of people in the room who know each other really well and are comfortable with each other, that's probably gonna go gangbusters. What if you have a group that is either say you have a group that might be clique-ish or doesn't really know each other well, at all, I would imagine that could be a little bit for some, for the extroverts in the room. It probably doesn't matter. But for some who may not be quite as outgoing and ready to share, if they don't know the people in the room very well, how can we help draw them out so that there can be that conversation?
Elizabeth Pittman (30m 60s):
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (30m 60s):
Benefits them. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I totally, totally agree. And here you there, and, and it's one of those things that I wish I had, like a silver bullet answer. I think it's one of those things that you gotta, you gotta first understand what the makeup of your room is and who your learners are. And again, you won't probably know until you ask, I mean, you, you need to get some feedback, otherwise we're just going to assume stuff. So by doing little surveys and things like that, you know, at the beginning, they're all anonymous. You can really actually get some decent information on the makeup of people.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (31m 33s):
The other one too, like, I'm like I'm saying, and like you were saying before, not everyone is going to want to share and that's okay if not everyone wants to share, but what we do want to do, what we can to make sure everyone's engaged. And so being very careful and strategic on how much like group sharing, you're expecting being very strategic and kind of monitoring the group to say, okay, is this a group that would like a lot of small group, you know, talking turn, parent share kind of thing, or small group talk, or is this a group that overall once more large group, I mean, maybe there is some guy in that group that is really knowledgeable.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (32m 10s):
And you know, when the leader asks a question and the person talks and you start this dialogue and it can be very helpful, right? That more pedagogical approach could be more, more useful as everyone wants to just kind of sit and absorb what's going on. So the, the trying to figure out the overall makeup of your group is tricky. But I think what we gotta do is use all the tools. We have to figure out what the makeup of the group is. So some of that is just observation, but another is just them.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (32m 40s):
How do you, how do you actually get the information on how comfortable they really are? And then being very careful to say, okay, how can we, what can I do to make sure everyone is as engaged as possible, but also comfortable? And they feel like their, their self concept is being honored. If there's someone who just wants to sit and listen, how do I let them just sit and listen, but how also do I work to keep them engaged? And that often requires that, you know, okay, everyone stop and think before just throwing out one question and having one answer, even taking 20 seconds to pause, awkward silence, and have everyone think about it before opening up to the big group, things like that can help keep people more engaged.
Elizabeth Pittman (33m 21s):
How can a leader check in on the progress of the class to see if the messages and the learnings are sinking in for lack of a better word?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (33m 31s):
Yeah, yeah, no, I, I, I, I like that again. I think tapping into the educational psychology world, and again, I apologize to professional professional educators out there that probably know this better than I do, but there was something that has become popular over the last few decades. And that the language is that of formative assessments. When we think of like assessments or tests, traditionally, when we're talking, like for those of us who are a little older, when this wasn't really a concept, we think of like end of unit tests where, you know, you have to, you know, fill in the blanks or, you know, circle multiple guests are true false, which I had never, I was terrible at.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (34m 12s):
But we think of that as tests, when we think of formative assessments are little tests, you can give along the way or little checks for understanding along the way that can actually be super helpful with adults. And it could be something as simple as this it's carved three, four minutes at the end of your Bible class or small groups or whatever like that. I'm going to just carve out a few minutes at the end and say, you know, give out little note cards and pens and at the end and say, okay, everyone write down the most important thing you learned today, or what are the top three things you learned today?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (34m 49s):
And just innocence, you don't have to put your name on it, just whatever do that, leave it on the table or put it in a box on the way out. And then you, as a teacher can go and just get a general feel for what they were taking from that. And I found overall, if, if you use the messaging of saying, look, I want to use this to better teach you to understand where you are and what you're learning. I want to use this as a tool to kind of help. It could just be anonymous. You can actually learn a lot. So if you're a, like a parish educator out there, you know, when you want to know more about this, it encourages us to, you know, Google formative assessment techniques, formative assessment techniques, and you could probably find webpages with lists of them and just try some things out, checking for understanding along the way, without giving big old tests, but just little things you can do.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (35m 36s):
You gotta tell people to give a thumbs up or thumbs down, or there's a million different things that they use for pedagogical approaches. But if you approach it from an Andrew graphical standpoint of saying, look, I want you guys to get the most out of this possible because you are sacrificing time to be here and you want to learn something. And I know we're all busy, so I want to learn together formative assessment techniques. There's a lot of them. And you'll probably find some that that really appeal to you and your group.
Elizabeth Pittman (36m 3s):
Is there a way to either ask better questions or techniques to keep the learners interested throughout the course? It could be 30 minutes. It could be up to an hour and our attention spans are so non-existent these days that it can be hard as an adult now to have to pay attention for that length of time. Are there some things that the teacher can do to help keep everyone engaged?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (36m 34s):
Yeah. Sure. Okay. So it's kind of leads to questions. I, I love the study of questions and how to use questions again, as a, as a curriculum developer, as a teacher, as someone just wants to encourage people and teaching the faith. I I've seen the power of great questions. I've also seen the terrible calamity of terrible questions. And I think we don't as, as teachers of the faith, I think it's very easy to just not think about the kinds of questions you're asking and to be uncritical of the kinds of questions you're asking, and they have huge effects.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (37m 10s):
Like what you're saying, Elizabeth is how we use the questions in what order we use questions, the strategies we use with, with questions, the ways that questions can help break up or move along an hour long course of study that can help engage more people. You know, even in like small groups or whatever, the way we kind of arrange and formulate questions and how we use them either formally or informally, like just off the cuff are really important. So in the book timeless truth that I wrote a few years ago, I kind of summarized six different kinds of questions.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (37m 46s):
I got this from multiple places, the Bloom's taxonomy book had some great ideas for this things. From the in understanding by design, I kind of cobbled these six categories of questions together. These things I thought were rather useful to know for teaching the faith. I could be wrong. There could be three kinds of questions that could be 20, but these are six. I have personally found useful. I think we should kind of consider so six different kinds of questions. I want us to think about, okay, how you use these questions and what order with West strategies, especially for adults, especially for adults, can, can help keep people kind of engaged and moving.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (38m 23s):
Cause remember that the, the, the point is learning. We want people to be, to be learning stuff, especially stuff that applies to them, living out their vocations as God's people. Okay. So as we go through the six different kinds of questions, I wanted to find them by how you ask them. But the kind of answer you're looking for, that's the most, when you're asking a question, I think the most important thing is what actually are you looking for? So that that's that's key. So first kind of question, first category is a hooking question, like a hook, you know, like a fish hook.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (38m 54s):
And the answer you're looking for when you ask a hooking question is what the learner is thinking. That's what you're looking for. Or the learner is thinking and hooking questions can be wonderful. We tend to think of them. Things like, you know, like icebreakers, that kind of thing. We're talking with youth, which I know a lot of adults like roll their eyes cause they don't want to do another like, Oh, share one important thing about yourself, but they can actually serve a very important function and helping to kind of break up activities. If you have an hour long, like lecture, sometimes it might be useful to halfway through, you know, kind of, okay, everyone stop and share a time when you know, X happened in your life and then people can kind of talk and it can kind of break the ice.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (39m 35s):
Cause the point is not necessarily what is the correct answer, but what you're thinking. And it gives us an opportunity to kind of share your, your thoughts for, for, you know, youth and other adults. Especially young adults can be an offer opportunity to break the ice and get people to know each other. But those are hooking questions. So use them strategically. Okay. The important thing to note when you're using hooking questions is especially with like younger adults, but even with older adults, if you begin a class session with a hooking question, you know, everyone share a time when you were in a storm or what's the hardest thing about being in a store, right?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (40m 8s):
That you're looking for. If you are not careful that can consume half your time, which should lead us to think also that, you know, from the anthropological standpoint, people want to share their experiences. So you got to honor that you got to honor that and it's indicative of maybe people want to do more of that, even if that's not the right thing to do, but people want to do more of that than maybe we give them credit for. So be careful strategic using hooking questions, time limits are wonderful. Now the second one is fishing questions and the answer for it to a fishing question is what the teacher is thinking.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (40m 44s):
And I'm going to tell you that most of the time, these questions are terrible. I would also submit that most of the time I see myself doing this. I've seen other pastors doing it. Other faith leaders, most of the time, honestly, this is the most common question. So it goes something like this. Okay. Lizabeth, ask you a question. I'm thinking of a fruit,
3 (41m 5s):
A banana, an Apple, a mango, a pineapple.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (41m 12s):
Got it. Okay. Elizabeth, correct. Now we asked those kinds of questions off hand because we want to keep things moving, right? It's these are the most, cause I'm thinking of something. I want you to be thinking of the same thing. I'm going to ask this question. Here's what thinking now the answer could be correct. It could be that there could be a right and a wrong to this, but in the end it doesn't matter because what you're doing is trying to get them to think what you're thinking. You're trying to keep this class on your path and not deviate from that. Right. And we do this all the time, but I would say almost all the time, that's not a terribly helpful way to ask questions because it moves it away from being a right or wrong thing.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (41m 51s):
A correct check for understanding to just whatever the teacher's thinking. I've seen this happen all the time. So when you're using questions, if you want them to know something, tell them, I think I've found that's a really good rule of thumb. If you want them to know something or say something, just tell them, that's usually more useful than trying to ask this phishing question. What am I thinking? Right. But that's so that's kind of a, it's a gross stereotype. I think it is a, it is an alteration from the third kind of question, which I think most of the times what we're actually aiming for, but the third kind of questions, a checking question, and the answer is the right answer.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (42m 31s):
Right? When it, when you ask a fishing question, you tend to be thinking like I'm thinking of this thing and it doesn't matter whether or not there are multiple right answers. It's what I'm thinking. So like, if I were to ask you Elizabeth, you know, I'm thinking of a fruit, a mango mango. If it's a checking question, like correct, that's right. There's a lot of different kinds of answers. A lot of correct answers to this. There's a lot of good options for this. And so when you're asking a checking question, you're asking them and you actually want them to be able to demonstrate that they know.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (43m 2s):
And again, when you ask this to a large group and only one person answers, you have no way of actually knowing whether or not everyone knows. So you as checking questions strategically, right. You know, something as simple as you know, like, okay, what's the first commandment, everyone, you know, on your sheet of paper, write down the first commandment, do it. Now I'll give you two seconds go and you should be able to figure out fairly, fairly easily. Who knows what and who doesn't.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (43m 33s):
Or if you know the first commandment, everyone put your thumb up. If you don't know the first commandment, put your thumb down, just show me right now in front of the class. And then you can check for their understanding. And also when you ask this kind of question, be aware that there are usually different answers. That could be correct. Not that God's word doesn't, isn't true. But when you ask a checkin question, like a Bible class, you know, like, okay, so who's involved in this narrative who are the people that are involved in this narrative. There's a lot of different people involved in the narrative. So it's easy to be like, well, no, I'm thinking of Jesus.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (44m 4s):
Jesus is the one involved in this narrative, but there's probably other people too. So know that you're actually checking for understanding, be ready to take the facts and be aware that it's not just, what am I thinking? But what's actually true. Okay. The fourth kind of question is a reflection question and this is kind of a broad answer, but the answer is the learner's reflection to the question, backed with evidence, the reflection to the question, backed with evidence.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (44m 35s):
Okay. It makes it different than the self reflection question, which I'll get later in the hooking question. But the idea of a reflection, if you ask a broad question, you know, to a, to a group, you know, like what is, what is the purpose of jesus' teaching here? You don't want to just be, well, I think this well I'm okay. You know, people are going to be to be saying that, but say, okay, Jesus teaching means this because he said, yes, yes. And again, these are questions that we can sometimes kind of throw out offhand.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (45m 10s):
Like it's just to keep the conversation moving. But usually when you ask these kinds of like questions, I think it's really critical. Especially with like adults and stuff. We slow down and take the time. If we're going to ask this question, take the time to allow everyone to settle in and really reflect on that. Right. Cause lifelong learning usually involves, you know, personal thought and personal responsibility and thinking and taking ownership, you know, instead of just feeding them the correct answer, get them to think about it.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (45m 40s):
And the wonderful thing about it too, in like in like a study environment where you're all together, especially with like facilitators who are pastors are trained DCS or deaconesses or teachers, is that also provides the opportunity for encouragement, but also course correction. Right? If someone says something and they're off now, if you're actually asking this question and having this dialogue, you have an opportunity to correct, you know, rebuke, exhort, you know, the kinds of things that, that we can do when we're approaching scripture, because that's what scripture does. There, there is there's truth there.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (46m 10s):
So when you're asking a reflection questions, usually give people some space to think about it and to reflect on it and to, to write on it again, I found it useful personally, if I'm doing a Bible study, like a Bible study narrative to pick out, you know, three or four kind of reflection questions to have ready have them kind of written out on a piece of paper, have them at the tables so that when it's time to actually, okay, we're going to think about this instead of just throwing it out to the big group right away and getting the first answer, find ways to give people some time, some space to think about it.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (46m 41s):
Maybe jot down some notes, sit on their thoughts for a second. Sometimes it's good to turn to a neighbor or a table. Sometimes this was good to open it up, but make it very intentional. So those are reflection questions. I got two more, I'm almost done. Five, the fifth kind of question is the self reflection. And it's similar to the reflection question, but the self reflection questions answer is the learner's honest self reflection to something. And the purpose of, of this is to get people thinking about their thinking metacognition.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (47m 14s):
So, I mean, this could be something as simple as at the end of a lesson, say, okay, everyone write down one question. They had, what's one thing they didn't understand. What's one thing that they don't know or the beginning of a session or something like that to be like, okay, what are three things that you know about Abraham and get them starting to thinking about their own thinking. And it's different than a hooking question. Cause we were questions, just getting people thinking about whatever, you know, that the answer you want is just anything, but with a self reflection question, the answer is an honest looking into your, to your mind and what you know, and what you don't know.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (47m 51s):
And that can be very handy to, you know, when taking a pause at any time during the lessons, but usually the beginning and the end can be really good opportunities for those. And then the sixth question, last one here, the six category. Anyway, I've come up with this as the essential question. And the answer that you want is the learners unfolding understanding of a timeless truth of the faith. The learners unfolding understanding of a timeless truth of the faith. There are many times when we'll ask a question and instead of just looking for a specific pinpointed answer, what we want them to kind of take this thought, take this idea and attached to a greater framework, a greater context.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (48m 33s):
One of the wonderful things I love about our Lutheran tradition, you know, and again, a rooted in scripture. And, and, but when we look at th the six chief parts, you really see that the six chief parts kind of in many ways provide this kind of necessary center nugget of information to help us understand the greater questions. So like an essential question is something like essential question is something like, you know, who, who I, who am I, or who has God and what has he done for me?
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (49m 5s):
And when I ask him question, who has God, and what has he done for me? Something like the Apostle's creed is this essential core of information. But as we continue to go through the story of scriptures, we go through the Bible, we continually learn more and more, the Holy spirit opens up more and more information. So asking the question over and over again, okay, from this, what has this scripture told us about who God is and what he's done for us? And you can add that to your body of knowledge. That answer that question is never sufficiently answered.
Rev. Dr. Pete Jurchen (49m 36s):
We continually continually learn and grow as, as the Holy spirit teaches us through the word it has the necessary answers, but something that we can always learn more from. So that's the, the essential question and, and, and use those use those sparingly too, but those are good ones to return to as you, you keep on going, keep on asking those questions.
Elizabeth Pittman (49m 55s):
Well, and I think the note that you just ended on is a great reason why we do need to strive to be these lifelong learners of the faith, because while God's the timeless truth is not going to change where we're at along, our continuum will change and our environment and our experiences will change. And we always need to be able to come back to that time was truth and root ourselves in it. So I really appreciate you taking the time today to give us what has turned into a great masterclass on adult.
Elizabeth Pittman (50m 27s):
And I think it's important because we need to be intentional, not only as learners, but those of us who have been called to teach to be intentional about how we're teaching, what we're teaching and the people that we have been given the blessing to teach and your, your, your advice throughout the whole conversation has been great, because it really has been a chance to focus in on that. I know I've been taking notes because when I learn, I need to put pen to paper to help it sink into my brain.
Elizabeth Pittman (51m 2s):
So this has been really great. And I appreciate your taking the time. I know we could probably keep going for another two or three hours. I think we'll save that for your next, your next chat with us. So thank you, dr. Pete for being with us today. Oh, thanks. Elizabeth is always, it's a pleasure. And an honor, if you'd like to learn more about some of the things that Pete mentioned, head over to cph.org, backslash timeless truth, the types of questions that he mentioned go, he goes into more detail there in that book on those, as well as provides other great tips for teaching the faith and basically at any age, as far as I'm concerned with that book, it really is very helpful.
Elizabeth Pittman (51m 44s):
So again, thank you for joining us, Pete, and to our listeners. We'll catch you next time. Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Concordia publishing house podcast. I pray that this time was valuable to your walk with Christ. We'd love to connect with listeners on Instagram, Facebook, and firstname.lastname@example.org for more resources to grow deeper in the gospel.