Preaching to our various learning styles
On the 3rd May 2019 Marilyn Welch gave a huge insight into how our individual learning styles are so diverse. Our first question to answer was “What words come to mind when you hear the word ‘preaching’?” Each one of us wrote a list and each list did not contain the same words as the person sitting next to us.
Then we were challenged by further questioning. What were your learning experiences like at school? What frustrates you in a learning experience? Is it that you can’t hear what the speaker is saying? Is the delivery, what is being said, far from clear in content and volume? Is the person speaking too fast and not giving you thinking time to assimilate what is being said?
We played a game: shock horror! However, the outcome revealed that by only being given three rules we could achieve far more than we’d ever imagined. We pooled our ideas and so ways to achieve were diverse but opened our eyes to different routes to success. We had to go through this process to realise that we as adults tend to over- think!
Marilyn introduced us to the work of Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970’s: people tend to have a primary representational system, through which they process information. We examined the visual , auditory ,and Kinaesthetic learning cycles and then went on to examine the Experiential Learning Cycle. We learnt to identify our own style of learning in depth.
We were reminded that our congregations also have diversity in their styles of learning. Should more people be involved in worship? A “hands-on” experience for a kinaesthetic approach? Andrew Gammon’s “Ten Minutes on a Tuesday” on the Methodist Website uses “Stations” where people move around the church to experience tactile interactions. Some of the congregation will want to know the relevance, but if we operate out of only our own learning style then we are not meeting the needs of each individual member of the congregation.
It’s the various personalities that we meet: there are those who are imaginative and ask “why?” and require reasons; those who are Analytical ask “What?” and require facts; those who ask “How?” and display common sense patterns; and those who ask “What if?” and perceive the bigger picture.
Once our learning styles had been revealed to each one of us we were put into groups containing four people, one of each learning style. We then planned a service together. The ideas were wide and implicit to including our preferred learning styles: this ensured that the planned service included all. It would be so uplifting if each church had a worship group who planned a service and took ownership of it with the variety of learning styles. We can now see the value of sitting down with others to prepare a service.
Marilyn has made us question why we do, what we do and how we do it each week when leading worship. In our approaches to planning future Services we will have a sensitivity to others learning styles through what we’ve learnt today!
Linda Hall, NZLPA Correspondence Secretary