So I’ve been reading a lot lately about language and its effects on the brain. (I can sense your excitement already!) Self-education is really becoming my passion, and I am trying to share with you all what I am learning because, let’s be honest, exegetical Bibile study is a self-education process (with the Spirit’s aid, of course!). With that said, I have some good news and some bad news.
The bad news: I am going to harp some more on outlining and narration (summarization), which I know are some of the more difficult and uncomfortable practices for a lot of you.
The good news: The stars have aligned! And by “stars”, I mean my desire to try and teach the fundamentals of outlining and my son’s grammar curriculum! More on this shortly!
So why are these so important? (I’ve learned new things!!)
In her fascinating book, Endangered Minds, Jane Healy, Ph.D. states:
“The invention of writing…changed thinking. Many scholars believe the precision required to get thought into words on paper refined mental capabilities, logical thought, and the ability of a culture to reason out its complexities.” (p. 87)
In her book, Healy discusses extensively language and how it actually physically shapes the brain, priming it for the higher-order thinking skills. We discussed the process of critical thinking some in my post on the theological commonplace book. It consists of fact gathering (grammar), analysis (logic), and the ability to develop and express your own opinion/position (rhetoric). I told you that this is when you “own” what you believe; when you are able to articulate it clearly. Language is truly at the heart of the whole process! God, in his infinite wisdom, chose language as the medium with which to reveal himself! Coincidence? I think not!
Therefore, ladies, our goal is to “own” what we believe; to know why we believe it and be able to discuss it with the assurance of understanding. We have discussed how these practices of outlining and narration (summarization) aid in this process. Now I want to tell you what I’ve been learning: Why these methods help!
It all comes down to passive learning vs. active learning. One of the downfalls we are seeing within the public education system (of which many of us are a product) is an increase in passive learning. This is the one-sided taking in of information. It can be in the form of a screen, a lecture, a sermon, something that is basically projected at you, but you are not able to interact with it in return; it is a one-sided transfer of information. This form of education leaves necessary language skills underdeveloped, handicapping many students’ analytical abilities which revolve largely around internal monologue and external expression (verbal and written).
Active learning, by contrast, is about interacting with what is being received. Discussion (in person is better, if you can get it!), the ability to question and probe, writing (narration), working through the connections of a passage (outlining); these are all ways of interacting with the text! These are forms of active learning.
Ladies, let me tell you… I have really been trying to up my narration game on all my reading (outside of just Bible study), narrating small passages after a day’s reading session. Oh. My. Word. (Pun intended!) The difference in my retention is amazing! As I write things down in my own words, I am more easily making connectins between the things I am reading, I am thinking things through more thoroughly, etc. And, ladies, the more I do it, the easier it becomes! These are skills and skills can be learned! But learning takes time and practice, and getting started is often difficult if you don’t know how. So, here is what we are going to attempt this week:
Work through your study as usual, and if you have time left, take just a few minutes this week give this a try:
Outlining: Allow me to figuratively take a page from my son’s literal book (Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind). Find a book, open it to a page with several paragraphs. Read the first paragraph and just jot down the most basic topic being discussed in one or two words. If it is discussing a person, just their name. If it is discussing an event, just jot down the event. No detail. Just find the basic topic.
Narration: Start small!! Find a little passage where an event happens (fiction books will be best here, or news stories) and simply try to jot down with no detail, the order of events. 3-4 paragraphs max for this exercise.
Baby steps, ladies. Baby. Steps.
Now let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13-5:28 in its entirety.
- References to time and place
- References to God the Father and Jesus
- References to Jesus’ coming
2:13-20 A refresher from last week to set the stage for the “wherefore” in 3:1: How was Paul’s message received? How did the non-believing Jews respond? (Acts 17:1-10) After their separation, what was Paul’s desire? What obstacle was he dealing with?
3:1-6 What was their solution to their problem? What was Timothy’s mission? What reminder did he give them? What was Timothy’s report?
**Note on timing: Paul arrived in Athens in Acts 17:22. We see Timothy returning from Macedonia in Acts 18:5. Thus, this letter to the Thessalonians must have been written sometime after Acts 18:5.
3:7-13 What is the effect of their good report? List Paul’s desires. Note the timing in v. 13.
4:1-3 What are they to do and to what end?
4:3-12 List all instructions given and any reasons Paul gives for those instructions. What lesson does he not need to teach them and why?
4:13-18 What comfort are they given? List the order of events Paul describes.
5:1-11 In what manner is the Day of the Lord going to be like a thief in the night? Whom is it NOT going to overtake as a thief and why? Contrast the “children of the day” and “they that sleep.” What do we learn about Jesus?
5:12-22 List the instructions given.
5:23-28 What is his prayer? Why is he confident it will come to pass?
Take a moment and summarize the book of 1 Thessalonians in your own words in your commonplace book!
This was a short study, ladies! Next week we will jump straight into 2 Thessalonians, which will probably be equally as short. Next week will be our overview week!
Keep up the good work, ladies! And I pray that the Lord blesses your diligence with understanding!