Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I taught a class yesterday for a group of ladies who are part of our new CLTC Communities (this is a Japanese site)initiative. The class is called 自分らしく生きる (literally "Being Yourself & Living it Out").

Recently, I have finally become convinced that the traditional approach of imparting knowledge simply does not work. Connected with that, I am committed to avoiding the lecture approach to teaching -- because it is not effective, and getting less so. I want the students to be involved in the process, and to help them integrate knowledge (truths) into their lives (application). So, we did several untypical things for this class that I thought worked well:

1. To start the class I asked the students to make a sketch of where they are at in their life journey. We had large pieces of paper and a basket full of my daughter's colored pens and crayons, they used this stuff to draw the place that they see themselves existing in at this time.

One person asked for an example so I drew a simple sketch on the white board of me jumping off a cliff, heading down, but looking at some nice hills in the distance. This has to do with my plunge into film making, very exciting but scary too. The class "got it" and got to work on their masterpieces -- the results were awesome. Several of the ladies have a lot of artistic talent, but all the drawings revealed a great deal about the person who did them... more then they realized.

Finally, I asked each person to tell about what they drew. So, not only was it a good time of personal reflection for each person, it was also a means of building community by getting to know each other better. Below is a photo of two of the students drawings:

2. Instead of just lecturing about the Bible (I have done way too much of that, although there is a place and a time for it). I divided the class into three groups and asked each of the group to study a section of I Corinthians 12. After they huddled for ten minutes each group reported what they had discovered -- again it worked out very well. Instead of me telling them, they found it themselves, and they did a good job, probably better than I could have done in terms of content. And, I think they are far more likely to remember what we covered and apply it to their lives.

3. We also watched a section of "Walk the Line" a movie on the life of Johnny Cash. I used this movie because there is a scene early in the film that shows young Cash struggling to make a go of it as a singer. His wife doesn't believe in him, they have no money, but he wants to sing so he tries to find a way to make it work. He goes to a recording studio, hoping to get a contract but he is told that the gospel music he is singing sounds stale. Johnny finally plays one of his original songs, with honesty and conviction, and he lands his first recording contract.

Cash had a rough life, complicated and full of problems but he eventually met God and became known as one of the most authentic musicians in the industry, and was deeply respected for it. For the class we discussed the obstacles he was dealing with, and how he found his genuine "voice" or way to express himself -- something it is so important for all of us to do. The students seemed to connect with this, one them talked with me after class about how difficult it is to figure out what her gift is and then how to use it. She expressed her frustration with the realities of having to make money and dealing with the expectations of others, struggles I am sure most of us can relate to.

Two weeks before Cash died, he recorded a moving music video. It was a cover of a song by Nine Inch Nails called Hurt. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend taking a few moments to view Johnny's incredibly authentic rendition of this song.

I want to acknowledge coach trainer Keith Webb, who contributed a lot to the way this class was taught. In other words, I blatantly stole ideas from him. I attended a coaching workshop in Tokyo that Keith facilitated. Not only did I get to learn a lot of great stuff about coaching, Keith used "interactive discover-based training" methods. It was wonderful -- a creative and highly effective way to teach. It is also a lot more fun than typical approaches. I highly recommend Keith, his web site is Creative Results Management.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I just found your blog today while looking for Japanese worship music. I am currently learning Japanese and am looking forward to reading more of your blog. :)

(If you have suggestions for good Japanese CCM/worship music, please let me know!)