Research has shown we have two of what I call God-given natural learning abilities. To determine this, a cross-section of the population who have never been tainted by any education system had to be found and studied. Where did they find this populace sector? Preschoolers who had never been involved in organized learning. Our two God-given natural learning abilities are discovery and imitation.
What is the first thing a young child, even an infant, learning to use her motor skills does when she comes across something new to her? She reaches out to learn of its texture, composite and weight. This is discovery learning. Then when she can get her fingers around it where does she take the object? To her mouth. Why? The mouth is the first place a child learns satisfaction. Thus the discovery learning experience continues.
As young adults you hear friends tell of how life totally changes when you have your first child. When do you really understand what they are talking about? When you have your first child. Discovery learning. As we age we hear others speak of the aches and pains they experience. When do we understand what they are speaking about? When we awake to those aches and pains. Discovery.
Jesus used discovery learning in His teachings. The night Jesus walked on water, Peter had a double learning experience. First, he learned that following Jesus he could do things beyond human capabilities. Then, he learned when you take your eyes off of Jesus, you sink quickly. This is discovery learning. Feeding the five thousand was also a discovery learning experience for Christ’s disciples. The death and raising of Lazarus, turning water into wine, so many of Jesus’ teachings were discovery learning experiences for His disciples and for you and me.
Discovery learning is with us throughout our lives. We need to learn to use it in our spiritual growth and in fulfilling our God-designed purpose. Not only for ourselves, we need to be creators of experiences that cause other people to discover the truths of God’s word. Telling them does not get the job done. Creating experiences for discovery learning implants the learning in their brain. As we create these experiences, we are fulfilling the Great Commission.
The other God-given natural learning ability is imitation. Infants and young children learn by watching you and me. They watch taking your hand to your mouth for satisfaction, thus they learn. They crawl around watching you walk upright. Eventually their crawling will lead to walking. The first five to seven years of a child’s life is centered around discovery and imitation. So it goes throughout our lives. We watch others, then imitate their actions – to learn how to swing a bat or golf club, how to turn a wrench, all the days of our lives.
There is not a better life to imitate than the life of Christ. His life on earth, especially the three and a half years of ministry are God’s modeling for us, how to live the righteous life. As we study and read scripture, we discover how to implement God’s ways in a torn world.
I’m not one for copying models or doing something because someone else had success doing it. That is one form of imitation, but I do believe we are called and created to imitate Christ. If we are living the Christlike life, others will be watching. The Holy Spirit leading your imitating of Christ will lead some to learn to walk as Christ as well.