Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Travelogue: education, sentience, and the value of live instruction

ducation is on my mind today. I tend to write a lot about faith, family, travel, and what it means to live this "Life-Charged Life...." But I haven't devoted many posts to education, and that amounts to a definite lapse because how we go about learning is a key element when it comes to taking hold of life.

The idea hit home yesterday evening at church, when I had a lot of fun both teaching and learning.

TRAVEL & BIBLE: In fact, Tuesday evenings have been a real treat all month. Rebekah and I have been hosting a "travelogue/Bible-study" event and we've really enjoyed the opportunity to go back over all the photographs and interpret the January Mid-East trip for our congregation. (If you're reading this in the Tampa area then come on over for the final two, you are more than welcome: 7:00 at First Presbyterian of Brandon, March 27 and April 3 )

Exploring the Sea of Galilee
Essentially, the telling has broken down into five weeks:
  1. Athens and Egypt (up to the Suez)
  2. Sinai (Egypt) and Petra (Jordan)
  3. Masada, Galilee (part one), Nazareth, Meggido, Mt. Carmel and Caesarea Maritima
  4. Galilee (part two) and the north (Dan, Mt. Hermon, Caesarea Phillipi)
  5. Jerusalem and Bethlehem
This week, with Rebekah getting in some grand-baby time in Connecticut, I had to do the study by myself. And - of course - the principle of "to teach is to learn" meant that I got as much out of it as anyone else.

The 1,300 ft east face of Masada
Here's a question: Why on earth would 60-plus people drive from their homes and all the way to church just to watch some guy throw 83 travel slides on a wall and talk about them for an hour?

Here's the answer - and I think it's huge: Granted, the photographs are fantastic, but I also believe there is a real hunger in our culture for people to connect with a good story, well told. One more evening at home in front of the television will never hold a candle to a community event that is both interactive and personal.

FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH: I'm not saying that I'm intrinsically more interesting than 500-plus channels of professionally produced cable television programing. But what I am saying is that the human element of real people sharing well-researched information in a community setting is in all likelihood an underutilized resource in today's world.

When I stand in front of a microphone and teach, especially if is material I have developed myself, something happens and everything kicks up a notch. My affect; the tone of my voice; my level of animation; the efficiency with which I process data, retrieve information and form sentences; the connection I make with people in the audience. Everything is enhanced.

Rebekah at "The Teaching Tree" on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee
Likewise in the audience. "Live" learning and its interactive quality serves to move even the quietest person in the middle of the next to last row from the passive learning state to - at the very least - sentience.

I guess what I'm saying is that the human community is at risk to the extent that it cuts itself off from interactive, "live," learning opportunities. Turn off the television, gather in groups, kick it up a notch, interact - don't miss out!


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