Avoid The Inoculation Theory of Learning

My 6-yr-old grandson was in town for his first overnight a couple of weeks ago. We told him we were going to church on Sunday. He asked why. ” Your grandpa is singing,” was one answer–which didn’t impress him. “To learn about Jesus,” was the next answer. He said, “I already know that.”

I see this attitude often. I have taught and mentored kids and adults to become soccer referees for over 20 years. Most take the entry level class and think they should immediately start working top level games, and, oh by the way, I really don’t need to return for additional training year after year.

Many years ago I ran across a quote. I don’t remember its entirety any longer. The concept remains. People think of education like being inoculated from a disease. You get a little injection of it, then you’re immune for life.

Continual learning

The thing is that life requires of us to keep learning. One reason is that we need to learn new things simply to survive. We learn about new dangers–why we should watch carefully at intersections for cars running stop signs, why we should buckle seat belts, why we should be careful of the influx of coyotes in the neighborhood.

We also need to learn in order to grow. Early in my life, I was a baby. I just reacted to stimuli. Then I went through all the stages of growth that developmental psychologists have described so well. At every stage you may think you are mature, but you aren’t. Years later you look back and think about how poorly you handled a situation that today you’d handle much differently.

That is why one of the most important Spiritual disciplines is study. Read from the Bible or other thoughtful writing every day. This weekend I was leading a discussion on the first part of Exodus. I’ve read it before. I saw the movie when I was a kid. There are insights I just picked up yesterday. You never stop learning.

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