Whether your class is small or large, there is a constant. People are different. Some are emotional while others are logical. Some are extroverts and some are introverts. Some are quiet while others are talkative.
In previous blog posts, I have addressed the issue of the overly talkative person (or dominator):
- Sunday School: Reigning in a Talker
- Dealing with a Sunday School Dominator, Part 1
- Dealing with a Sunday School Dominator, Part 2.
One of the contributors to whether a person is talkative or quiet is how they think. Some of the participants in our groups are external thinkers and some are internal thinkers. Let me describe the differences. External thinkers think out loud. They process a question or thought while they are talking out loud. Internal thinkers, on the other hand, think quietly until they come up with an answer. They will tend not respond until they have enough time to think through a response.
This is, however, a problem in most of our groups. The external thinkers are usually the quickest to respond to any question–even if they have no idea of an answer. Sometimes their quick answers are good ones; sometimes they are not. Sometimes if we give them enough time, they will get to a good answer.
The consequence of external thinkers responding first is that internal thinkers have not had time to think of a response and seldom get an opportunity to share one–unless given time. What can a teacher or group do to involve more internal thinkers–who often have good responses when given time to think? Consider these ideas:
- ask participants who have already answered a question to allow others this time;
- ask frequent responders privately to help you involve more people in the group by allowing 2 or 3 others to respond before they answer a second question;
- ask the group to think for 45 seconds silently before calling for answers;
- get everyone into pairs (everyone has to talk in pairs);
- get them into groups of 4-5 with instructions for everyone to participate; and
- allow enough time for participants to think and write down a response to a question.
In nearly every class, there is a balance of external thinkers and internal thinkers. Because participation increases enjoyment and benefit from the Bible study experience, it is important to balance involvement by the talkative and the quiet. Work to get everyone involved in some way every week. If your group is large, get them into smaller groups. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!
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