Category Archives: education

Memorization technique

I’ve been trying out an additional technique to assist memorizing and have found it quite helpful so far. In the past simply reading a number of times from the text and then covering it to test my retention has not always been successful. Writing out the text by hand seems to help, but the technique outlined in How to Memorize Verbatim Text has been speeding up the process, and I think aiding effective retention. I’ve tried it so far with some catechism material, but I’m hoping to progress to Scripture memory. I can’t see why it wouldn’t work with any material.

Avoiding exposition like the plague

Neil Postman’s third commandment of the philosophy of teleducation is “thou shalt avoid exposition like the ten plagues visited upon Egypt” (Amusing Ourselves to Death, p. 148).

Oh, the uphill struggle of the true expository preacher!  It is not only teleducation that has been reduced to story-telling. The massive reorientation that has refashioned the classroom “into a place where both teaching and learning are intended to be vastly amusing activities” (p. 148) has impacted many more places besides. Postman believed children immersed in such teleducation would come to expect it “and thus be well prepared to receive their politics, their religion, their news and their commerce in the same delightful way” (p. 154). Twenty years on we are reaping the consequences in the Church of Christ.

And yet, there is hope, with the increasing interest in and practice of expository preaching. It’s Corinth all over again: spin doctors, sound bites, and stories versus preaching nothing but Christ and him crucified.

No entry requirements

Neil Postman proposed three commandments that described the philosophy of education by television, the first of which was “Thou shalt have no prerequisites” (Amusing Ourselves to Death, p. 147). Each programme is a self-contained unit which does away with “the idea of sequence and continuity in education” thus undermining “the idea that sequence and continuity have anything to do with thought itself” (p. 147).

Sadly this philosophy now has invaded the academy. An increasing number of students I reach (at a university which shall remain unnamed) are permitted to take courses, even at an elementary level, for which they are wholly unprepared. They have little idea of hos to write connected English, particularly those whose natural language it supposedly is. They have less of an idea of how to think; unsubstantiated assertions apparently clinch any argument. Little wonder if their diet for the past 20 plus years has been largely the compartmentalised, disconnected, uncontextualised pseudo-education of television.

Dangerous and worrying as such a situation is, for the Christian church the dangers are alarming. This idea has permeated virtually the whole of society, including the minds of many professing Christians. Have Sunday worship experiences become little more than self-contained happenings with little or no relevance to the rest of the week, or the rest of life? Do we expect to understand instantly what we read in Scripture? Do we despise theology because it requires sequence, and sheer hard graft? Is this why 60-second this, instant that, and secrets of the other are the staple diet of those Christians who still read (apart from the obvious endless revenue-generating possibilities for publishing houses)?