Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Bible teaching about
teaching principles

This Bible teaching about teaching principles follows the basic pattern set out by one John Milton Gregory who wrote the book, Seven Laws of Teaching. He lived in the mid 1800’s, but the ideas he put forth are simple, and stand the test of time. 

In this short study, I will present his ideas, plus expand on them from my own 40 years experience in a college or graduate school environment. I believe his book is still in print, and I would recommend that you read and digest all of what he said. Whether you are teaching or preaching, these teaching principles will work for you.

Principle One: The Teacher

In the first of the ten teaching principles, you, as the teacher, must be the subject matter expert. This does not mean you need to know everything about the subject. However, you do need to know and understand more than your students, and you must have a minimal and accurate level of knowledge. Be sure to pray for yourself and your students.

It helps if you have a passion for the subject matter, and you constantly study to improve and increase in your expertise. Your enthusiasm and example will help motivate your students. Fill your mind with much more than you will need to teach in the allotted time period for the class. 

Paul displayed this energy, “how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20).

Principle Two: The Subject

You must have something to teach. This may seem too obvious, but it is true. It may be math, Bible, theology, psychology, art, or auto mechanics. One way of dividing knowledge is threefold: character building, theoretical knowledge, and practical application. Christian teaching falls into all three categories. 

Principle Three: The Place

The third of the ten teaching principles is about the fact that you must have a place where the teaching takes place. This can be anywhere: online, under a tree, in an air conditioned fully equipped university classroom, in a living room, across a kitchen table. Learning can take place anywhere. Jesus taught in a synagogue (Matthew 4:23), boat (Matthew 13:1ff.), and hillside (Matthew 5:5), for example. 

Principle Four: The Student

It is important in these teaching principles to note that the student(s) must be capable of learning, motivated, and you must have their attention. Discipline needs to be administered with an appropriate measure of reward, encouragement, persuasion, and punishment. A poor grade is a form of punishment. 

Principle Five: The Communication

Teachers must use a language understandable to the student – it must be on their level. Jesus used concrete, everyday life stories to illustrate His points (Matthew 13). The idea is to explain new information in terms the student already understands. For example, Jesus said to Simon and Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Since they were fishermen, they knew exactly what Jesus meant.

Principle Six: The Teaching Process

You must prayerfully think through your lesson plan. Have specific goals you want to accomplish, and a step by step plan to achieve those goals. Have many resources, but don’t overdo it. It is good to have handouts, and practical exercises to inspire students to learn for themselves. We learn by thinking and doing.

Use enough materials to stimulate as many senses as you can: sight, sound, touch, etc. Use humor, visual imagery, enthusiasm, and sincerity. Get constant feedback to see if your students understand the material. For examples, use quizzes, exams, essay assignments, questions, projects, etc.

Principle Seven: The Learning Process

The idea is to get the students to think and do – to process the information. Ask questions that stimulate thinking. Group discussion can be helpful, but don’t let it descend into a pooling of ignorance. Use debates. Have them write research papers or give reports. Teach them to think critically. Some material must be memorized. An example is learning the multiplication tables, or Scripture verses. Have them interact with who, why, what, where, when, and how questions.

Principle Eight: Assimilation and Accommodation

The eight in the ten principles deals with two different phases of how people learn. Assimilation refers to taking new information into our minds, sorting it out, and storing it. Accommodation refers to adjusting and using the new information in everyday experience. It is the difference between knowing and applying new information. 

The teacher, then, must instruct, explain, and inform the students. You first need to get the information into their heads. Secondly, you need to have the students think critically, creatively, and practically about the new information they have just received. In other words, ask the, “So what?” question. 

In my own experience, I will state a principle, explain it, illustrate it, and then have discussion by the students. I start the discussion with this question, “Jack, what stands out to you the most about what we have learned?” Any answer is fine. Then I will ask another student what they think of what Jack said. That way, I get the students thinking about and discussing the material. In a small group, you can ask each participate. 

Principle Nine: Review

It is good to review, review, and review the material. At the beginning of the lesson, let the students know your topic and the subheadings. Present the material in small chunks. After you have presented the material, review what you have covered. Sometimes it is good at the beginning of a lesson to review what you have already covered in prior lessons. 

Principle Ten: Study

As we continue learning about these teaching principles, I suggest a simple system of how to study. It will work for you, and for your students. In the final analysis, learning is work – even if we try to make it entertaining and exciting. Here are the steps.

•Survey the block of material. Get the overall view, the general ideas discussed, and how the material is broken down into subsections.

•Think it through. Read back over the material little by little. It is good to write down in your own words the important points, people, and concepts.

•Reflect on the material. Try to recall what you have studied. See how the material connects with other concepts you have learned. Search out the answers to any questions that come to mind. Visualize in concrete terms the concepts you have learned.

•Review and memorize. With your notes, review, review, and review some more. 

Memorize key concepts and people. Just keep going over the material until you can understand the concepts and can remember them. 

With this, Esmie and I wish and pray for your continued success in the teaching opportunities God gives you. These principles of teaching will work in your work, family, Sunday school classes, home Bible studies, preaching, and for your own self improvement. God bless. 

Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman

BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS

1. Think of your favorite teacher. What was it they did that impressed you?

2. What does 2 Timothy 2:2 tell you about the student in the learning process?

3. Regarding teaching principles, how important is study (1Timothy 4:1-3; 6)? Explain.

4. From the teaching principles we have learned, what is the illustration Jesus used in John 

4:34-38? Among the ten principles, what was the principle He was illustrating?

5. What was the learning environment when Paul was witnessing to Lydia (Acts 16:13, 14)?

6. Which of the teaching principles was Paul using when speaking at the Areopagus (Acts 17:22, 23)? Explain.

7. In using the teaching principles, it is important to back up our 

positions and statements with proof. What was the position and proof Paul offered in Acts 17:31?

8. Study Matthew 6:25-34. List and explain as many teaching principles as you can regarding Jesus’ method.

9. How can you use these principles in the opportunities you have to teach? Explain.

10. What stands out to you the most in this study? Explain.

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