Get Kids Thinking!

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Use this article with your teachers to help them develop
critical thinking skills in children.

Scott memorized “Love thy neighbor as thyself” in Sunday school.
He can quote it perfectly now, but he still fights constantly with
neighborhood kids.

You may have a Scott in your class-or someone like him. You
wrack your brain wondering, “What can I do to ensure that my
students live what they learn in Sunday school and church?”

Sadly, there’s no sure way to accomplish this, but there are
ways to guide kids beyond simply reciting biblical principles to
actually internalizing those principles. It’s a simple process, and
Jesus used it throughout his earthly ministry. He asked questions
to get people thinking.

The types of questions you ask your students can affect whether
children apply biblical truths to their lives or not. Our goal as
Christian educators is to ask questions that’ll require higher
level or critical thinking skills in our students. We want our
students to go beyond the obvious “fill-in-the-blank” answers. We
want our students to think-to really think. How do we do this?

Many of us are programmed to ask questions that require only the
lowest levels of thinking to answer. But if we want children to own
their faith, we must help them develop strategies to think
creatively and analyze complex problems.

Many theorists define and identify critical thinking skills.
Benjamin Bloom is perhaps the most well-known. Bloom’s Taxonomy
identifies a hierarchy of thinking skills with each skill on the
hierarchy being a prerequisite to the one listed after it. The
levels of thinking as identified by Bloom are

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  • knowledge,
  • comprehension,
  • application,
  • analysis,
  • synthesis, and
  • evaluation.

Jesus was a master teacher who utilized each of these six levels
of thinking during his ministry here on earth. The results of his
dynamic teaching left followers who were willing to give their life
for the gospel and have perpetuated it for 2,000 years! Now that’s
life application at its best!

Let’s take a look at Jesus’ teaching methods, how they fit into
Bloom’s Taxonomy, and suggestions for use in your ministry.

What it is: At the lowest level of Bloom’s
Taxonomy of thinking skills is the capacity to recall facts. The
ability to recall facts is based on one’s ability to memorize. “How
many books are in the Bible?” “Name the 12 disciples,” “What did
God create on the third day?” are knowledge questions with only one
right answer. The recitation of memory verses is also an example of
this thinking skill.

How Jesus used it: Jesus used recall many times
when he was questioned by Pharisees and when he quoted Scriptures
from the Old Testament. When a lawyer asked Jesus what the greatest
law is, Jesus recalled Deuteronomy 6:5 as an answer-“You shall love
the Lord your God…”

How you can use it: Use recall questions as a
quick review to make sure kids understand the basic content. Then
move on quickly to higher level thinking. If you use Scripture
memory, make sure kids understand the verses and can apply them to
their lives. There’s a place for knowledge questions in our
teaching, but let’s not limit ourselves and our students by relying
solely on this method.

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Children's Ministry Magazine

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  1. hmm… I don’t think I have ever thought about it exactly this way, but the progression and all definitely makes sense. Thank you for explaining it so clearly and for all the teacher training ideas. Although I have essentially tried to include all these levels in the curriculum I design, it will be good to have a precise framework to judge against there, too.

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