I’ve been thinking quite a bit today about how to describe effective teaching. I came up with the spatula and blender theory. It’s not new truth, it’s just a new way (for me) to point out what makes teaching effective for some and not for others. This may not be perfect, but it’ll for sure help speakers/teachers internalize what can make the difference between good content teaching and good content teaching that makes a lasting impact.
In my spatula theory, teachers want to spread the truth all over the students like a baker frosts a cake. They get exposed to possibly amazing content, then get to lunch and forget what they learned because the content didn’t get inside their minds and hearts.
In this scenario, the teacher doesn’t spread the truth like a baker spreads frosting. He puts the frosting (the material to be taught) in a blender, then adds the cake (the hearts and mind of the students) and gets everything mixed together thoroughly. In this situation, the truth becomes conviction that stays with them.
In the blender theory, the teacher includes the students in the experience of being taught, where the spatula teacher just spreads information around with hopes that it might connect.
Let me dial this in a bit to show an example of each:
Spatula teaching: Jonah disobeyed God by running the opposite way God told him to. God won in the end and he used Jonah to change the Ninevites. We should learn from Jonah’s mistake and obey God the first time.
Blender teaching: Jonah was chosen by God for a task because he was one of God’s go-to people. Jonah wasn’t a bad guy. He disobeyed because he knew God would show grace to the Ninevites and he didn’t want to look stupid when God didn’t kill them.
Have you ever known what God would want you to do, but ran the other way? Maybe you knew what your parents wanted, but you did the opposite for any number of reasons. You and Jonah could be friends because you know how each other feel.
At the end of Jonah’s story, when God does, in fact, spare the Ninevites, Jonah is sulking. This man of God is bummed God had mercy. If Jonah had been on board with God, this would have been a reason to celebrate. This sulking session would be a moment of awe which Jonah would express through worship.
Students, let me ask you a question. How are you living the Jonah experience in your own life? Where are you sulking where you should be praising? Where are you saying “no” when God is saying “go”?
You’ve been chosen. We’ve all be chosen to be used by God…
The message goes on from there, but you’ve immersed the students in your message before you get to the good stuff. They’re with you, now just challenge them with action steps.
Whether you’re teaching a small group meeting or a weekend service, as Andy Stanley says in his book, Communicating For A Change, make sure they’re on board before you drive off wherever the message is going.