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And now let’s talk about Phase 1 Biblical Parenting Methods.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast for any length of time, then you’ve heard me teach on II Timothy 3:16. Since parents are to be God’s Ambassadors, they need to parent the way God would parent. And how do we know how God would parent? We need to use His Word, and what was His Word created to do?
II Timothy 3:16 teaches, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
So, as we take the Scriptures to ambassadorially point out kids to God, our parenting needs to align with purpose of the Scriptures.
And the first phase is called Teaching.
Now, we can’t go into all of it today. So, when you have time, I strongly encourage you to listen to our Parent’s 5 Jobs Series as well as our episodes called “How Do You Become a Teaching Parent?” and “How Does God Want Me to Teach My Child?”
Fo now, though, I’ll review a couple key points briefly.
1. What is Teaching?
To teach is to communicate information. To teach well is to communicate information in the way best suited to the student.
Please notice that teaching doesn’t require learning. Learning is the student’s job. You can teach poorly and the student do their best to learn it, and you can teach perfectly and the student refuse to learn it. Your goal as a teacher is to impart information in such a way that it makes it easy for the students who want to learn to learn.
Teaching encompasses everything you do as a parent. You teach your child to say “mama,” eat, walk, dress, smile when a camera is present, be sweet, tie their shoes, play nice, work hard, do homework, drive, and what feels like a million other things every single day.
And, Lord willing, your children have learned the things you have taught them and are learning the new concepts you’re teaching them now.
So, that’s Phase 1 of Biblical Parenting. You must teach what God wants you to teach, how God’s wants you to teach, and for the reasons God wants you to teach them.
Now, we’re going to talk about the content of your teaching next time. Yes, you need to teach them about God, the Bible, and the Gospel, but there are lots of other things they need to learn, and next time we’re going to list some of the most important ones.
Today, though, we’re going to focus on the how of teaching—the “teaching well” part.
There are two main ways to teaching information. You can teach deductively and you can teach inductively.
Now, I want this episode to be practical, so we’re going to discuss different examples, but we also need to make sure we really understand what it is to teach well.
2. Teaching Well Requires Deduction.
Most broadly, deductive teaching starts with a truth and then makes conclusions based off that truth.
For example, gravity is real. Therefore, if you jump out of the second story window, you will fall. If you bounce off the trampoline you put outside the window at the wrong angle, you will be vaulted into the yard and fall on the ground.
And, yes, that example comes from my own childhood.
Another simpler example is all humans are sinners, you are a human, therefore, you are a sinner.
Deductive teaching requires a lot of telling. When people think of lectures, they’re often picturing deductive teaching. The teacher is presenting a lot of information and making conclusions about the information and the students are supposed to be learning.
The kind of learning associated with deductive teaching is primarily memorization. The student needs to remember the truth and the corresponding conclusions or they will be unable to utilize the information in the future.
For example, they may believe that if they have glitter and a dream that they can fly as they jump out their window. Or they may reject the idea that they are a sinner in need of salvation.
Deductive teaching also requires the student to be able to repeat the physical steps they learned. For example, starting a car, tying shoes, riding a bike, and the like involve deductive elements. The child was told what to do in the correct order, and now the child needs to remember it and do it correctly.
The three steps of Deductive Teaching include what I’m going to call education, illustration, and application. Education is the telling part. Illustration gives verbal or physical examples of the truth or the validity of the truth being learned. And application is the conclusion part where the truth is shown to have real-world significance.
Education is teaching your kids about Christ-honoring eating. You can show them what the Bible has to say about their food. By the way, we have a growing collection of food-related resources as CelebrationOfGod.com. You should check it out.
Education also includes talking about healthy foods versus what my family likes to call “death foods,” and you teach them about what effect those foods have on the body.
Education is the telling part.
Then you have . . .
Illustration is the showing part. This might involve showing your kids about how the body metabolizes food or the deleterious effects of sugar on the teeth, the brain, and the rest of the body.
Illustration includes showing your kids how to step through reconciliation correctly. You use it to demonstrate how to make a bed.
Illustration is a very important, and yet often missed part of teaching. It’s so easy to just tell people things. It’s faster and it requires less of me, the teacher.
But to take the time to think through, create, and present a beneficial illustration that really helps the truths I’ve taught to take hold is much more difficult.
Don’t avoid illustration in your parenting. Jesus used it all the time. They were called parables. One of today’s resources is called “Parenting Strategies You Need in Your Home.” That episode is about the nature and importance of parabolic parenting.
And the next episode is called “How to Integrate Parables into Your Parenting.” In that episode I walk you through a number of practical ways to get better at the illustration step of deductive teaching.
And the final step of deductive teaching is . . .
Some parents don’t know how to teach well, but they all figure it out somehow. Many parents don’t know how to illustrate well, but occasionally they manage to work it in when everything else has failed. But most parents have no idea how to apply well.
Now, we’re actually going to talk about this concept much more in a future episode, but—for now—I want to illustrate what application is.
I like to use the example of sunscreen. You squirt the sunscreen into your hand, and you apply it to your skin. Application in teaching refers to taking a truth and bringing it to bear on a person, situation, or experience.
For example, you have educated your children on the spiritual reality that all humans are sinners. You’ve taught them what sin is as well as the consequences of sin. You’ve also illustrated for them different kinds of sin and consequences. But if you leave them to extrapolate out for themselves what any of that means for them, they will likely come to the wrong conclusions.
Most people when taught about sin and consequences start looking for some way they can escape the consequences. All of the their efforts end up being self-motivated in their own power, and do nothing more than to make their sin problem worse.
But when we apply the necessary truths to their lives, we show our kids the need for a Savior, and we help them understand how what they’ve learned about sin and God, justification and sanctification, life and death needs to mean for their lives today.
After teaching your kids the effects of different foods and illustrating for them how to eat in a Christ-honoring way, you then help them apply that information by actually putting it to use. It’s no good as simple head-knowledge. It needs to be acted upon.
So, that is an overview of one Biblical Parenting Teaching Method. Deductive Teaching utilizes education, illustration, and application to tell the child the truths about life and how to use those truths in the most God-glorifying way possible.
But there is another Biblical Parenting Teaching Method. This method isn’t necessarily better, but it is just as important. The key is to know which method to use at which time. And we’ll cover that when I’m done explaining . . .
3. Teaching Well Requires Induction.
Whereas deduction starts with a general truth and then moves out to specific conclusions, induction starts with specific observations and then works out toward the general truth.
For example, someone might say, “I break out into hives when I eat peanuts.” That is the specific observation. And then they start working out from there. “Breaking out into hives is the result of an allergic reaction. Therefore, I must be allergic to peanuts.”
Whereas Deductive Teaching makes statements, Inductive Teaching asks questions.
Whereas Deductive Teaching explains a fact, illustrates that fact, and applies it to life, Inductive Teaching introduces a question and then facilitates finding the right answer as well as correctly applying it to life.
I can deductively teach my students by telling them that gravity is what pulls objects to the ground, illustrate it by dropping an apple onto the floor, and then telling them to be careful when they visit the Grand Canyon.
But I can also inductively teach my students about gravity by taking an apple, dropping it to the ground, and then asking them why the happened. I would then facilitate the learning process whereby the students attempt to discover why that happened. And once they have correctly discovered the answer, ask questions that drive them to accurately conclude that they need to be careful when visiting the Grand Canyon.
Let me just say right here that, “You’re right.” If you’re sitting there thinking that Inductive Teaching sounds harder than Deductive Teaching, you are 100% accurate.
It’s easier to tell two teens to not touch each other sexually because it’s a sin and it will scar you forever than it is to guide them as they come to the correct conclusions on their own.
My dad was the “don’t look at, touch, or smell girls” type. Now, there was more to it than that, but it was basically all lecture.
My friend, on the other hand, had a father who said, “Hey, buddy, I want to show you something. I was reading this passage in my devotions today, and I was really taken aback by it. I’d love for you to read it and then tell me what impact that passage will have in how you interact with people of the opposite sex.”
After reading the passage, they had a conversation where my friend explained what he had learned, and then his dad shared his own insights.
That boy had to do far more work to understand and apply God’s Word to how he treated girls.
Now, anyone can rebel regardless of how they were taught, but Inductive Teaching puts the student into the place of having to discover the truth on their own by investigating, working, experimenting, and testing.
A student who does all the necessary mathematics and science-ing necessary to accurately come to the conclusion that gravity is the force by which a planet or other body draws objects toward its center, and when they’ve experimented and realized that an object’s mass is directly proportional to its gravitational pull, and when they discover that there are places on earth where you weight more or less than other places, they will have a far better understanding and appreciation for gravity than a student who was just told what it is.
This is why scientists and researchers and those who create from scratch are far better and more invested than people who are told about a discipline.
So, quickly, Inductive Teaching uses . . .
They present a conundrum or pose a question—often by presenting a scenario—that peaks curiosity and gets the student’s brain wondering why it is the way it is.
And then they use . . .
This is an extremely important part. Please note that I have been making a very important point as I’ve talked about the student coming to the answer to the question. I’ve constantly referred to them coming to the correct answer.
Too much of what passes for education in our culture is asking questions, allowing the students to come to whatever conclusions they want, and then celebrating whatever answer they pose.
That’s not good, helpful, or valuable. It’s harmful because all humans are sinners and all humans come to the wrong conclusions about things. Some are more wrong than others, but any conclusion that subtracts God from the equation is a wrong conclusion.
In order to facilitate inductive learning in a Christ-honoring way, you need to walk beside them making certain that they don’t get too far into the weeds. We don’t want a foolish child to come to the conclusion my daughter shared when she was about 6 years old.
I asked her, “Why did you scream at your brother?” She replied, “I’m a sinner. I have to sin.”
Yeah, that’s not the right answer.
So, I loving facilitated that conversation to help her realize that she doesn’t have to sin. Yes, left to herself, she will sin, but God has a plan for helping her sin less for His glory and her good. The problem was that she chose to sin and reject God’s plan.
Don’t pose a question to your child, give them a passage to read, and imagine that you’re done. NO! You need to either work with them through to the right and Christ-honoring answer, or you need to reconnect with them later to verify that they’re understanding the answer in a way that pleases the Lord and fits with reality.
And then—of course—the final step of Inductive Teaching is the same.
Just like with Deductive Teaching, Inductive Teaching is no good if we’re not changed by what we learned.
We need to help our kids come to the right conclusions about how the information is to be applied to their lives.
The difference between deductive and inductive application is the telling versus asking and the illustrating versus the facilitating.
My friend was able to discover God’s will for his interactions with girls and come to correct conclusions about how that truth needed to practically impact the relationships he had.
Now, before we move to our final point for today, let me share some more resources with you.
The first is called “Why ‘Why’ Is More Important Than ‘What’ | asking the right questions to reveal the wrong heart.” It details and describes how using questions is often more powerful than making statements when it comes to helping your children mature.
And when it comes to the single most important relationship in their entire lives, I recommend you listen to “The Second Most Important Question You Need to Ask Your Kids.” That episode gets to the heart of your child’s relationship with God.
Okay, so now we need to answer a question. And though I’m sure you could do it inductively, I’m going to answer it deductively.
4. How Do You Know When to Use Deductive Teaching and Inductive Teaching?
I’m going to say that you need to use both. It’s never going to be one or the other, and I’m going to suggest that often times it will be an even mix of the two.
However, there are some general principles that can be used to determine which might be better in the moment.
A. How mature is the child?
As you can imagine, inductively working from the specific observation to the accurate truth requires discipline, attention, discernment, and wisdom.
Less mature children do not induce as well as more mature children. This is one reason I believe it’s not just good enough to teach our kids things we pray they will learn, but we need to teach them how to actually learn.
If you have time, our Teach Your Kids to Learn Series will be very helpful for your family.
In the end, we want to help our kids to become the kinds of people who can be faced with a problem or challenge and correctly work out how to glorify God in the moment.
Another consideration is . . .
B. How much time do you have?
We have a two part series called “Speed Parenting | how to be an Ambassador Parent when there’s no time.” If you don’t have a lot of time, then Deductive Teaching is the way to go.
The same is true for . . .
C. How urgent is the situation?
A car is barreling toward my child; I don’t have the time to work my child through the life-saving information they need. All I can do is snatch them up or yell out, “Get out of the road!”
D. How many times have you already talked about it?
I often encourage parents to have big conversations with their kids that are laid like touchstones in their children’s lives. They’re foundational and they’re something we’re going to touch back on all throughout their lives.
I may work through a truth inductively in order to help my kid understand and embrace as much as possible the truth learned, and then I can deductively remind them of that truth later on.
Or we can learn something together deductively or inductively and then in the future I might ask a question that they need to answer based off the discussions from the past.
The need of the moment, the child, and the content is all going to affect which approach I take.
And finally . . .
E. What is the content?
Some content needs to be told. Your child is not going to inductively come to all the right conclusions about God. Yes, we can learn a lot from nature as long as someone is facilitating our learning process, but God gave us His Word and told us about Himself because we could never discover those things on our own.
Induction works really well for truths that the child has the ability to discover and grasp on their own (or with a little help).
But there are other truths that are too big or deep or difficult that—at least for now—they need to learn deductively.