In this week's Time magazine, there is a report that Harvard is going away from just book knowledge and more towards applied knowledge in their curriculum. Out is history as a required course, and in are courses covering practical ethics, personal finance and a host of other real life issues.
"Just as one doesn't become a marathon runner by reading about the Boston Marathon, so, too, one doesn't become a good problem solver by listening to lectures or reading about statistics," says the committee chairman who made the suggested changes.
We should take note of these changes. Academia has for centuries valued knowledge for its own sake. The same has often been true for churches and individual Christians. We must go from simply giving out information and help people apply their knowledge. This will involve reallocating our time towards hands on learning. Rather than teaching a class on visiting the hospital, we need to invite others to go to the hospital with us, and teach them along the way. This should be a part of our core “teaching” curriculum.
The book Our Underchieving Colleges reports that students remember just 20% of the content of class lectures a week later. Hands on learning, however, is usually retained at somewhere around 75%. It seems that Jesus taught his disciples in both of these ways. We need to recover this type of learning in the church today.
How do you learn best—from lectures, discussion, or hands on?