"Constructionist learning is when learners construct mental models to understand the world around them. Constructionism advocates student-centered, discovery learning where students use information they already know to acquire more knowledge.  Students learn through participation in project-based learning where they make connections between different ideas and areas of knowledge facilitated by the teacher through coaching rather than using lectures or step-by-step guidance.  Further, constructionism holds that learning can happen most effectively when people are active in making tangible objects in the real world. In this sense, constructionism is connected with experiential learning and builds on Jean Piaget's epistemological theory of constructivism. "
We wouldn't want a mechanic, dentist, doctor, or police officer to be serving us without some formal training. Most pastors go to a seminary school for credentials to show they understand the bible. Seminary schools use the same form of teaching as other schools. They read chapters, evaluate, write papers, and take tests. They have internships and are evaluated on their progress during the internship. The formalized teaching they follow, the same as other institutions, realizes certain theories and truths about how people learn, comprehend, and understand. Such truths and theories, at least in part, come from psychology.
To dismiss psychology or philosophy from our learning experience would be to dismiss certain truths utilized in seminary schools for teaching pastors. If principles of education are essential for our teachers than they ought to be equally essential for students of such teachers. We ought to decide if we are students or observers. What kind of teacher never tests their students? This page can help us learn how to be better students, followers, learners, and teachers.
What do we do when there is conflict with information from the bible, teachers, or ourselves? Conflict is necessary for us to change and correct ourselves. Since we all sin/miss the mark then we live in spiritual conflict. If we do not see conflict, we will think we are right and follow self deception. This normal discomforting experience of seeing where we are missing the mark is necessary for our learning, growth, and maturity. Perseverance and endurance are key. We ought to seek the renewal of our mind as we have a new identity in Christ and God.
The following information can help us understand our process in learning. Understanding how we learn can enable us to become better learners.
Psychologist - Jean Piaget
In psychology and cognitive science, a schema (plural schemata or schemas) describes a pattern of thought or behavior that organizes categories of information and the relationships among them. It can also be described as a mental structure of preconceived ideas, a framework representing some aspect of the world, or a system of organizing and perceiving new information. Schemata influence attention and the absorption of new knowledge: people are more likely to notice things that fit into their schema, while re-interpreting contradictions to the schema as exceptions or distorting them to fit. Schemata have a tendency to remain unchanged, even in the face of contradictory information. Schemata can help in understanding the world and the rapidly changing environment. People can organize new perceptions into schemata quickly as most situations do not require complex thought when using schema, since automatic thought is all that is required.
People use schemata to organize current knowledge and provide a framework for future understanding. Examples of schemata include academic rubrics, social schemas, stereotypes, social roles, scripts, worldviews, and archetypes. In Piaget's theory of development, children construct a series of schemata to help them understand the world.
Video on Schemas
Assimilation and accommodation
The process by which new information is taken into the previously existing schema is known as assimilation. Alteration of existing schemas or ideas as a result of new knowledge is known as accommodation. Therefore the main difference between assimilation and accommodation is that in assimilation, the new idea fits in with the already existing ideas while, in accommodation, the new idea changes the already existing ideas.
Equilibrium & disequilibrium
Piaget believed that when a child hears contradictory statements that challenge established schemes, equilibrium is disturbed. Piaget called such a disruption inequilibrium "cognitive conflict or disequilibrium." When children experience cognitive conflict they set out in search of an answer that will enable them to achieve states of equilibrium.
Cognitive dissonance - Leon Festinger
In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time; performs an action that is contradictory to their beliefs, ideas, or values; or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values.
Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. An individual who experiences inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and is motivated to try to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoid situations and information likely to increase it.
Depth of knowledge & bible education
Introductory level: (terms, understanding, recall, memorization) Learning concepts. Mainstream learning. Following the crowd.
Truth seeking level: (Asks questions, tests knowledge, building discernment, seeking improvement/correction, challenging self & others to walk the talk)
Baptism level: (give self over to the process of change, let go of self and trust more in God in practice and application, examination, confession, practicing new character, regular prayer from the heart, aligning motivation and interests with God’s, experience the learned concepts in practice while evaluating results, purify heart, clean conscience, and produce good fruit.)
Mentor level: Sharing experience with others, learning how to describe the inward experience and process (temptations, thoughts, feelings, senses, insight etc.). Developing coaching skills through Godly character while being a disciple of God.
What if we began educating children as soon as they came into church building up schemas that match the bible? Imagine a child learning by experience love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, truth, generosity, peace, and justice. Imagine our children developing their spirit at a very young age with deeper conversations, building discernment skill, and practicing mediation. Then imagine what kind of teenagers this different education system might create. Of course this would stimulate so many difficult and uncomfortable conversations about real life feelings and spiritual realities many of us hope to avoid, but that would be sin/miss the mark. We ought to face the dysfunctional realities which exist within our church communities, families, and congregational systems. We ought to face them with truth, love, and faith. We ought to seek how we can correct and align them closer to God.
Imagine a family coming to church with an alcoholic parent. The child goes off to their kid group and nervously tries to talk about problems. This is a highly sensitive area, but a very important one to address. The child right at this point is going to develop a schema about religion, church, and God. Do we respond with truth and sincerity? "I'm sorry to hear about your struggles at home. Let's talk about that more and pray together. I would also like to meet with you once a week to help you understand how seeking God can help." And what about Santa? Condoning the lie does not seem to fit God's truth. It could be a very good thing to evaluate our current system and see how we might be able to develop spiritual students more with God.
Progress, not perfection is commonly used because too often people will see a desired result, be like Jesus, and think or say "I can't be perfect" then do nothing to grow based on the belief "I can't." PROGRESS, not perfection. How many of us can say we can't improve, even just a little? We can all improve, spiritually.
Benjamin Bloom was an educational psychologist who developed a theory used in our everyday education systems.
"In the 2001 revised edition of Bloom's taxonomy, the levels are:
Create (rather than synthesize)
Some consider the three lowest levels as hierarchically ordered, but the three higher levels as parallel." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom's_taxonomy
Often times teachings in church services focus on 'remember' (recall facts) and 'understand' (explain ideas) stages, perhaps hoping to illicit the next stage 'apply.' We must not miss the rest of our spiritual education process; apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. Christians often times are provided some information with an expectation they can figure out the rest on their own.
Take a moment and review the model below entitled Blooms Taxonomy
Each of us have within us an opportunity to connect with God and unify with God's Spirit. Truth, humility, obedience, patience, love, and peace are keys to learn, grow, understand, and practice. Following much experience through application, analyzing, and evaluating, we may reach the stage of creating a more understandable message describing our experience with God. Our experience and having a deeper understanding of how to describe that experience is extremely important for furthering God's message. Whatever message there is of God it ought to coincide with God's character; love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, truth, just, righteousness, goodness, generous, etc.
As followers of God we are on a mission to seek God in everything. We carry with us our mind, heart, and spirit everywhere we go making our journey with God quite convenient. So not having time would only be a deceptive excuse not to exert the effort necessary to build and grow in connection with God's gift. It is difficult and uncomfortable to give ourselves over to God's shaping character while sacrificing our selfish desires, wants, and expectations. Yet this is necessary for learning, understanding, healing, restoring, and to work out our salvation.
Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
Seeking peace is to reduce our worry, anxiety, obsessions, anger, and destructive tendencies. The process required leads to self-denial, death to our destructive habits, new understanding in God, unfamiliar engagement with Godly character, and other new experiences which are uncomfortable. Therefore, there is a necessary discomfort which may feel contrary to peace that will in effect, lead to peace.
https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/ (image below)