Over Christmas, our entire family got into Trivia Crack. When I say entire, I’m not just talking about my husband, kids and I…my sister and her husband and even my dad were playing. My mother was the only one not playing (which irritated her to no end, believe me). If you don’t know what Trivia Crack is, it is a trivia game for your phone or personal devices or facebook where you can challenge friends or strangers to a trivia battle. It’s crazy addictive to a family that is big on trivia anyway (my husband has a regular trivia team that competed last year at a national tavern trivia event..so we’re a little serious about this trivia stuff).
While I’ve had fun playing, what has been most informative for me is watching my 11 and 13 year old play. While my husband and I are content to play the game, my kids are intent on being part of the making of the game. They spend as much time on the app editing and rating other people’s questions and writing their own as they do actually playing the game. Their friends seem to be doing the same. What a revelation about this generation! They are not content to participate from the outsides of something. They want to be inside it, driving it and making it better.
So how does that shape my teaching strategies? Knowing that my 3rd-5th graders are probably wired very similarly, I need to think about ways that they can drive their own learning and experiencing the Bible. I know that we can’t talk at kids and expect them to do anything more that smile and nod (or more often zone out and cause destruction). But entertaining them with skits and gadgets doesn’t get them any more involved in their earning. We have to go deeper with kids to get them to engage.
What does that look like? Each lesson is different. A lot of the time, it’s about asking questions to help them find the answers rather than telling them. They don’t always want to do that work. But their learning goes deeper when they find the answers (not to mention teaching them critical thinking skills which will help them academically).
Sunday, we learned about what Jesus says about love versus what we think about love. I used conversation hearts and a video of a “Diamonds are Forever” ad as representations of culture’s idea of love and contrasted them with Jesus teaching about loving our enemies in Luke 6, about laying down our lives for our friends in John 15 and Paul’s summation of God’s love for us in Romans 5:8 “God demonstrated his great love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The lesson also included an experiment adding food coloring to hot and cold water, a water color prayer activity and writing in their prayer journals. I try to find as many ways as possible to give my students a place to grab the basic truth that God loves them no matter what.
This is more than Bible story, review game, word search, craft and dismiss. That doesn’t cut it with this generation (one could make the argument that it never worked, but that’s another post). We need to engage them and push them a little bit to own their own faith journey-even in third grade. Believe it or not, kids are hungry for ownership of their own faith. Let’s give it to them.