During my research, I discovered another fact about which I had a hunch. People learn even more when we add interaction to verbal and visual communication. A Chinese proverb goes something like this:
I hear, and I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do, and I understand.
Though that quote may not be exact, it does highlight the effect of teaching that includes hearing, seeing, and interaction. I once heard a public school teacher talk about this approach in terms of teaching a child. She gave an example of teaching a child about the wonders of the ocean and offered three teaching options:
- Option #1: Talk to the child about the ocean. Now, ask the child to talk about what she learned.
- Option #2: Talk about the ocean and show the child photographs of the ocean. Show her images of its color and vast horizons. Show her pictures of the sunset. Now ask her to talk about what she has learned.
- Option #3: Go to the ocean, and insert one five-year-old. Let her feel the sand between her toes, let her experience the waves, let her smell the salt-water air, and let her splash and swim in the tide. Now, let’s talk to her about the wonder of God’s ocean.
The above sequence moves the student from a monosensory learning experience (hearing only) to a dual-sensory experience (hearing and seeing) to a multisensory experience (hearing, seeing, smelling, and touching).
The research in this book demonstrates that the more senses we stir in the learner, the higher the levels of learning. This is true in the classroom, and it is true in the worship center. Though we cannot insert our congregation into the ocean, we can insert them into the learning process. We can show them visual images and use interactive tools to involve them in the learning process. By the way, which teaching option would you prefer to learn by? 1, 2, or 3?
Rick Blackwood, The Power of Multi-Sensory Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 16–17.