Monday, September 08, 2008

More Adventures with Psalms

A couple more ideas for Psalm reading:

I was reading Psalm 143. Here are some possible learning activities:

1) Each participant finds a space. Participants can: mime, dance, write, draw, other(?) But they can't make any noise and they can't leave their space. "Imagine yourself the Psalmist - the speaker, the writer, the singer. Reenact it. Re-create the scene." Leader reads the Psalm out loud, a couple verses at a time.

2) Work in 2's or 3's if they want but still no sound, still can't leave their space.

3) Create 3+ person skits from a Psalm or part of a Psalm. _ minutes of prep time. (Make the prep time shorter than you think they need so they have to work) __ presentation time. Keep it short to start with. There's a place where setting time limits setting constraints stimulates more creative thinking. There's another place where you need time and space to solve and discover, a place where you can't rush the process.

4) Read the Psalm and ask sensory questions: 1. What do you see happening? 2. What do you hear? 3. What do you smell? 4. What do you feel? (hands) 5. What do you feel (heart?) 6. What does it make you think about? Why?

Do any of these verses or activities cause you to remember a time when you were in a place like this with God?

This kind of activity is probably for older kids because it requires thinking outside the box but sometimes older kids have become so conditioned to traditional learning that they can't think outside the box anymore and any non-traditional approach to learning frustrates them so much that they can't do simple activities that require simple but creative problem-solving.

I was in a college course that took a discovery (teacher-isn't-going-to-tell-you- anything, you-have-to-figure-it-out-on-your-own) approach and after the first lab we went from a 12+ to 3 students just because of the professor's empirical approach to the science (empirical - focusing on senses and observation as in God-given senses, and God-given powers of observation).

Not everyone sees the same things. Trained experienced observers see more than casual observers. People and animals who lose the use of one of their senses somehow compensate with their other senses. I'm not even sure every "normal" person sees, hears, tastes, or feels the same things. We think of it as preference but maybe it isn't. I think some people taste more and smell more - as in more details, more distinctions. Maybe it's just a matter of practice. I don't know.

This was a physics class by the way! Physics is way off the bottom of my list of favorite subjects. I hated physics in Jr. high but I loved this discovery focused college level class. 1st lab: every student had 3 tiny cups of white powder. We had to use only our senses and write every observation we could make. We had to figure even that much out for ourselves. The professor didn't tell us anything. He left the room. What were the substances? Were they all the same? Could we taste or smell them? Were they poison? He wouldn't tell us. He left the room. Maybe after 30-45 minutes of student frustation in a 3 hour lab he came back and told us that. I think that was the deciding moment when we lost 3/4 of the class. From that point on every class got better! We discovered literal black boxes and whirling dervishes.

Faith is believing what you can't see, hear, taste, touch, smell yet God gave us the capability to experience life with a body loaded with sensory capabilities. An enigma of opposites.

Aren't we more apt to remember what we actually discover and experience for ourselves than only what we're told? How does that work in scripture? Does God tell us everything? Did Jesus tell us everything? Did they ever use a discovery approach? Did they ever leave something for the listener to figure out? How does that work in faith ed? Is it legitimate to use a creative problem-solving-discovery approach to learning in faith education? How do we do it?

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