Why Does Learning Have To Be Academic?


How Do We Learn To Experience Life?

In America we equate academics with book learning, head knowledge, degrees earned, but how do we learn most of our life skills?  We can read self-help books or how-to-do books, but usually we learn through experience.  We learn to speak a particular language because of those around us speaking that way.  We learn to eat by first being fed and later wanting the independence to do it ourselves.  We don’t learn to walk through the academics; we learn through trial and error.  We don’t learn to ride a bike by reading and studying on the physics behind balance, we hop on the bike, get pushed by a parent, and learn through experience.  At 16 we read the rules on driving a car, but that doesn’t teach us how to actually drive that car; our parents sitting beside us saying “gas, no break, no gas, no turn right, right, right, no break….., etc.” teaches us. 

So how do we teach life skills.  In public school we would have to read a text book and take tests on what we read.  In Church we would read Sunday School or Children’s Church material during our lesson.  But how did Jesus teach?  What textbook did he use? The Talmud? The Torah?  The intellectuals of his time who knew those books spend countless hours debating their meanings.  Today, we Christians still do the same, debating countless hours over Biblical interpretations.  Those books are need for moral and spiritual direction, but most learning is done through experience.  I can’t spelunk because I never went spelunking although I have read about it.  I can’t water ski because I never went water skiing, even though I have read about it and may understand the physics behind it.

“When I grow up, I will never be like my parents,” we boast until we are adults parenting and eat our words because where did we learn parenting?  We learned it from experiencing it as a child through our parents.  How do we learn to be a “Christian”? Do we learn it from reading books on Christianity, Discipleship, Sanctification, etc.? Usually we learn it from being around other Christians whom we model.  That is why Christian fellowship is so important to the Church.  So as Christians, in a sense, we all are teachers, for others are watching, modeling, critiquing.

Now I do not want to minimize Bible reading and studying, reading devotions or devotionals, or even reading Christian literature, for we desperately need that. I contend that most of our learning is from experience, so maybe we, as the Church, need to reexamine how we teach the saints in their development toward maturity in Jesus Christ.  The ultimate goal is not to have someone go into full time ministry through Bible College and Seminary, but have someone grow in the image of Jesus Christ, so others see Jesus in them and their lifestyle.  The best way to teach lifestyle is to live, and to live is to experience.