Bible Study for Your Learning Style

Christian Life & Theology, Podcast Episodes, Productivity

In this short episode, Phy discusses how to customize bible study to your unique learning style and find ways to make the Word a priority for your personality.

More on this topic can be found in Ep. 93: How to Succeed at a Bible Reading Plan.

 URLS:

Learning Style Quiz: http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml

Bible in a Year Highlighters: https://phyliciamasonheimer.com/product/5-bright-gel-bible-highlighters/

 

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Transcription

Welcome to Verity podcast. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer and I’m here to teach you how to know what you believe, to live it boldly, and to communicate it graciously to the world around you. I believe that women are ready to go deeper in their faith than ever before and they don’t have to go to seminary to do it. I am so glad you’re here. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey because every woman is a theologian.

Hello friends, and welcome to Verity podcast. I’m Phylicia Masonheimer and I am so excited to be back with you this week for this episode as we talk about Bible study for your individual learning style. Now, I’ve mentioned this in a couple of my previous podcast episodes. It’s something I really started researching this year when we started the Bible in a Year Club. Now I get to talk about it a little bit more in depth as we are headed into the second quarter of the year. Because we have a lot of ladies in the Bible in the Year Club that are just now finishing up numbers and will be finishing Deuteronomy before we get into April and so I’m thinking even more about this idea of Bible study for your learning style because they are actually implementing these ideas and these principles. I wanted to share it with everyone else because I think it might be helpful to your Walk with God and helpful to you as you are navigating what does it mean to be a faithful Christian and how can I study the Bible in a way that actually works for how I learn and how my brain functions? So, that’s what we’re going to be talking about in this episode.

The idea of learning styles or the concept of learning styles is typically discussed in the context of education. We hear about this a lot in homeschool circles, hear about it in public education, on teacher’s websites and in books for teachers. You’ll hear about this idea of teaching according to a child’s learning style. So, there are four primary learning styles. There are auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and read/write. Now, for the sake of this episode, I’m actually leaving read/write off of this and kind of combining it into the auditory and visual learning styles. But there will be reading and writing elements in all three of the learning styles I’m going to discuss with you.

To back up to this being an educational idea, I think what’s interesting is that we assume that the Bible should be easy to study. We assume that the Bible should be something that comes naturally to us, that something that we easily just can sit down and understand it. Like there’s no big issue with opening it and immediately getting something out of it as if it’s like a fiction novel. That’s not what the Bible is, right? It’s a book that is translated to English for those who are English speaking, translated to English from Hebrew and Greek. It’s ancient, it reflects the culture of the time it was written in, and it’s written by many different authors over thousands of years. And yet we expect to sit down with it and immediately understand it.

We should instead see this as study. When we say I’m studying because I’m in college or I’m in high school, we immediately assume, “Hey, that takes some work.” But when we say Bible study, we assume it doesn’t take work. We assume that it should come naturally to us. We should get something out of it right away. It shouldn’t be hard or difficult or require effort and it requires all of those things. So, coming to the Bible with an understanding that this is going to be a challenge and it’s going to require that I do the work of devoting myself to study this because I’m going to meet God in it helps us and it goes a really long way. But we also assume and I talked about this in the very first episode of Verity podcast three years ago, we assume that everybody consumes the Bible in the exact same way. We assume that no matter who you are, where you’re from, what your history is, what your life is like, you’re going to participate in the Bible and read the Bible in the exact same way and that’s simply not true.

A lot of people engage with information in very different ways. The thing that really got me interested in this was studying the differences between men and women and how they consume information. Because I learned that men oftentimes aren’t big readers, at least for the first 50 years of their lives. I don’t remember exactly where I found that statistic, but there was a test done, an experiment done in Central Park, New York City, where they were handing out free books and I believe the number was 70% of the people who took the book were women and then of the remaining 30%, they were mostly men over the age of 50, but not under the age of 50. That’s significant because even around the entire world, girls beat boys in terms of reading and comprehension. Does that mean that boys aren’t smart? No, it doesn’t mean that boys aren’t smart. We know boys and men are smart, but they’re engaging with information and books in a very different way. They learn differently, for the most part.

So, what that said to me was, are we treating the Bible in this same linear way where only auditory learners, only read/write learners can engage with it, and everybody else just has to figure out some way to God? Well, no, the Bible is for everyone. And I will say this, I think that sometimes, regardless of your learning style, you just have to sit down and read the Bible. You have to learn to do it. There are ways to do that that I’ll talk about in this episode that will help us to do that. The long and the short of it is people learn differently and you can bring your learning style to the Bible. And that is okay. I would say it’s even a good thing because it will help you get the most out of what God is saying to you in the Word of God and that is what we’re after here. 

We’re going to look at these three primary learning styles. We’re going to look at auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning styles. I’m going to just run through some ideas for you as far as how you can maximize the Word of God. And maximize what it says in your consumption of it in a way that truly meets your soul, and meets your mind right where you are. So, let’s start with the auditory learners. So, another word for these, another description of these would be the talkers. Auditory learners are talkers. Not only do they learn by hearing, but they also learn by speaking because they can hear themselves speaking. In doing that, they actually kind of reiterate the information to themselves. So, it’s like the cycle of speaking it hearing it, hearing it, speaking it. So, for the auditory learner, what can be a challenge is you can get very overwhelmed and overstimulated by noise. This is me, I’m a primarily auditory learner with some kinesthetic tendencies and for me noise can be so overstimulating. I have to turn it off. I have to shut off fans, excess noise, have it quieter. If I’m going to have the kids around me while I’m studying the Bible, which often happens, I need to have excess noise aside from them off. So, anything loud, like when they play with Magna-Tiles or cars and it’s super, super loud and there’s music playing, I’m going to ask them to switch to a different toy or turn off the music so that we can reduce that sound because it’s overstimulating to me. 

Not everybody is this sensitive. They might be more sensitive to visual clutter, like a visual learner might be. Kinesthetic learner might have other challenges but for auditory talkers, it’s important if you can to work in an area that’s quietish. Now, I’m not saying perfectly quiet because you know that I say this all the time. Don’t wait for a perfect quiet time to meet God. Meet God right where you are. Meet God regardless of the circumstances. That’s how people have done it throughout the last thousands of years. At the same time, if you have some control over the situation, minimizing noise can be helpful. So, fans, music, TV, noisy toys. If you have eliminated those noises, listening to classical music, instrumental music can be helpful to your focus. And I do this a lot, I play almost only instrumental music in our house every day through our Sonos speaker system. That’s been a great way to cultivate a relaxing environment when there isn’t excess noise.

A couple of other tips for auditory learners. Try listening on audio as you read the Bible and follow the text with your finger. Because when you’re doing this, your eyes are working, you’re engaging your mind, but you’re also hearing it read by someone else. If you don’t have an audio Bible on hand, you can always just read out loud to yourself or to someone else. Another tip is to rewrite the text in your own words. So, write out what you just read, but say it in your way and restate those concepts in your own words as if you’d be teaching it to someone. Another example of this kind of teaching concept is to retell what you read to a friend. That can be a really great way to teach someone else what you learned.

Now, one trick that’s going to be consistent across every learning style is the idea of the Pomodoro method. The Pomodoro method is simply a timer method for productivity, but you can use it in your study time. What you do is you set a timer for 20 minutes, you do focused study, or work for 20 minutes, and then you set a timer for five minutes. And you take a break, you get up, walk around, do something away from the space, don’t go on your phone, go get some coffee, go outside for a second, use the bathroom, whatever it is, five-minute break, then come back and do another 20 minutes. Now, for Bible study, you may not need two 20-minute rounds, but you may find that setting the timer and taking the break helps you stay more focused because it’s a smaller timeframe, you have an ending point and it can really help you engage with the text. So, those are a few of the tips for auditory learners or talkers.

Let’s move on now to our visual learners or our watchers. Watcher learners like to engage with texts through video or through images. They like maps, they like charts, diagrams, anything that they can anchor what they’re reading in a visual, because they’re going to want to put that away in their brain. So, if you want to know the difference between being an auditory learner and a visual learner. Here’s one trick that I saw when I was studying this. You close your eyes and someone says the word cat, do you see the letters C-A-T or do you see a physical cat? Whichever one of those it is for you is a hint at your learning style. If you see the letters C-A-T for cat, then you’re probably an auditory or read/write learner whereas if you see the image of the cat, then you’re probably a visual learner.

For the visual learners, I’ve struggled a little bit with this because there are a lot of tips that I can give for today’s day and age. But I thought, what if you were a visual learner back in 1517 and there was no video, there was nothing like this, what would you have done? I was thinking about it and it dawned on me that art really served this purpose. Art is a visual aid. It teaches people about God and Christ and the Gospel. If you look through the ages, especially the last 2000 years, you have all of this beautiful Christian art that’s depicting the story of the gospel. This was likely a really good visual aid for people in the churches who were learning what truth was and especially were learning orally by being taught, instead of reading because so many of them were illiterate.

So, that’s something that is also interesting to look at in history for those who are visual learners. So, a few more tips for you if you are visual. Obviously, you can utilize videos related to the text that you’re studying, BibleProject, YouTube videos, Whiteboard Bible, Spoken Gospel, these are all on YouTube. You can find them. I use them in Bible in the Year Club and they can be very helpful. Another tip is to make your study area, your living room, or bedroom, wherever you are, whenever you’re reading make it visually appealing and relaxing. Try to limit the distractions. You don’t want to have something that is getting in your way of focus. The auditory learner would turn off fans and things like that.

Take notes as you read. Now this is important for every learning style and I really encourage taking notes on scripture one or two times a week. Doesn’t have to be every time, one or two times a week diving deep in scripture and really breaking it down and wrestling with it. But for visual learners, bright colors, highlighters, sticky notes can be really helpful in your Bible as you are learning and breaking down the passage. I use highlighters, we have them in the, Every Woman a Theologian shop. We have gel highlighters that won’t bleed through your Bible pages. You can grab those highlighters on phyliciamasonheimer.com in the Bible in a Year accessories section. But as you are taking those notes for visual learners, try leaving some white space in your notes so the note page is not visually overwhelming and then bullet point out. The points that you’re finding in the text. You can even write an outline for the text, so you have a really nice visual to return to and you can immediately find the headings and the points about God that you want to remember. You could also use symbols. This is a method of inductive Bible study popularized by Kay Arthur, using symbols for different things that you see in the text instead of color coding or you can do both, either way works. Once again, the Pomodoro method of setting a timer can be so helpful to a visual learner. Because for you having that focus time and using the color coding in conjunction with it can be very very helpful.

I’ve been enjoying a new podcast I think you’ll enjoy as well. It’s called Compelled and uses gripping immersive storytelling to bring Christian testimonies to life. On every episode, a guest shares their compelling story about how Christ completely transformed them. One of my favorite stories is episode 31 with Virginia Prodan. Virginia was a small petite attorney in Communist Romania during the 1980s defending Christians in court. Her success angered the Romanian dictator and he vowed that she would pay. One evening, Virginia was alone at her office when a man entered the room, closed the door, and pulled out a gun. He barked, “Shut up, sit down, I’m here to kill you.” She was face to face with a trained assassin. What happened next? There’s only one way to find out, but I guarantee you, it will blow your mind. Listen to Virginia’s entire story by searching for Compelled Podcast. Virginia is on episode 31, which is titled “He Came to Kill Me.” While you’re there, I think you’ll enjoy the other stories they share as well, ranging from missionaries, to addicts, to prisoners, or just regular people sharing how Jesus Christ transformed their life. Every story on Compelled is true, vivid, and told by the person who lived it, and saw God working through it. You can listen to all of these stories and more by searching for Compelled on your favorite podcast apps or by visiting compelledpodcast.com again, that’s compelledpodcast.com.

Last but not least, we have our kinesthetic learners or our doers. We have our talkers, our watchers, and our doers. Kinesthetic learners have a lot of cross over with people who have ADHD. Because both have a lot of energy that needs to be spent or channeled into a specific direction. So, for kinesthetic learners, you may also resonate with some of the other two learning styles but for you your excessive energy needs to be channeled in a good direction so you can engage your mind and focus on the text. A lot of boys tend to be kinesthetic learners, which is why you won’t often see them sitting down and taking notes the same way, a girl might do in her Bible study. They just have a different learning style. So here are some tips if you’re a kinesthetic learner, take handwritten notes as you read. I know you’re thinking, wait a minute, you just said that a lot of people who are kinesthetic don’t learn that way. Umm, yes, I did, but I still encourage doing it a couple of times a week as a practice of discipline and as a challenge. Doesn’t have to be for super long, but use highlighters and fun pens and paper. This is actually an activity that uses your energy. You’re writing something out and so it can help you focus more because you’re not just sitting there reading. You’re actually writing something with your hands. 

Try standing up while reading, or listening while walking on a treadmill, or walking outside. You can also try sitting on an exercise ball and kind of rolling around as you’re reading, standing at a counter while you study, whatever you need to do to kind of move your body a little bit, while you’re focusing on the text. Try rewriting the passage in your own words. Again, this can be a really great practice using that motion of handwriting, and teach someone else the information. This is a very popular kinesthetic hack because people who are kinesthetic, they’ll have the advantage of moving their body as they’re teaching. They’re also hearing it as they’re teaching, and they have to really immerse that information within themselves in order to teach it to someone else. So, teaching someone else can be great. It might just be that you sum it up in a comment on Facebook, or you describe it to your kids or to your significant other, or your roommate. All of those would work for teaching back what you’re studying. I would recommend for the kinesthetic learner, instead of setting a timer for 20 minutes, set a timer for 7 to 10 minutes because this shorter timeframe might be helpful to you and help you focus and then take the short break two minutes and then come back for another 10 minutes. This is great for ADHD as well. 

Lastly, get a box of fidget toys. This might sound ridiculous, but I went and bought one of these from Walmart for $15. It’s a bunch of little plastic fidget toys, stress balls, things like that. I actually bring that box out only when my girls are about to do their memory work, and our morning basket in home school. I have a kinesthetic learner, and for her it’s nice for her to be able to hold a stress ball or turn something around or twist it as she’s listening to what we’re talking about. This can help adults too. This could also be great if you are homeschooling or even if you’re not, you have your kids home and you’re teaching them how to study the Bible, or when you’re doing mealtime discipleship bring out the Fidget toys. They can hold onto those while they listen and they have to sit still, but they can play with those toys, can really help channel that energy in a great direction. So, my point with all of these is not that the Bible can’t be read on its own, because it can and I think it should. I don’t want us to turn learning styles into a whole personality. It’s just supposed to be a slight aid or advantage to getting into the Word of God.

If that’s you, I hope that some of the tips in this episode really meet you where you are and you can try these out. If you want to know what your learning style is officially, there are plenty of tests you can take online. I’ll find one and put one in the show notes for you. But again, these aren’t cut and dried. It’s more what do you resonate with that would help you to focus on the Word of God and to make it a priority in your daily life? That’s what I’m concerned with. I think that’s what God’s concerned with. He knows that He designed us with diversity of personality, and He also knows that we’re in a fallen world and our brains are different in a fallen world. We might need different helps to engage with scripture. But at the same time, it’s our job to dedicate ourselves to showing up to the Word of God, even when we don’t feel like it, even when it’s hard. The beautiful thing is that when we do that, it always pays off. Not necessarily in material things, not necessarily making your life easier, but in drawing you close to the heart of God, so that you have what it takes to discern what is good and true, and beautiful in this world and so that you can confidently share your faith with those around you. 

Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Verity podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, would you take the time to leave us a review? It helps so many other women around the world find out about Verity and about Every Woman a Theologian, as a ministry and a shop. We appreciate you and I hope you’ll be back next week as we continue to go deeper into God’s Word and the heart of Jesus Christ.

 

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