March 9, 2013

Large-group Versus Small-group Discussion

This week’s teaching activities are mainly discussion-based, as are many of our teaching strategies. While group discussion should not be the only teaching tool we use, it does form an important basis of any Bible study. How you handle discussion will depend largely on your class size. In a class with fewer than 12 people, most discussions will probably be held with the group as a whole, though you may occasionally want students to talk in pairs or smaller groups. For classes with more than 12 people, breaking off into smaller groups of four to six people for discussion works well, perhaps with a spokesperson from each group reporting back to the larger group after they’ve talked for a while.

Larger groups can sometimes have whole-group discussions, but it’s important to watch out for those one or two talkative people who dominate the discussion and don’t give others a chance to speak. While you’ll want to avoid interrupting someone, it’s OK to jump in when a “talker” pauses and say, “Thanks for sharing that, Sherry. Now, who else has some thoughts about this? Justin, what do you think?” Without being rude to Sherry or putting Justin too much on the spot, try to broaden the discussion to include more people.