Digital Children: Learning Spaces

Allen Reesor on Learning Spaces at the Digital Children conference:

Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 that we need to become little children but we don’t know who is the child.

Who is a child?  Are we becoming like little children?

Who learns from whom?  As adults we are not the experts, we come knowing that we don’t know.  If you already know everything you need to know you don’t need to do the research!  Children strive to know about God, to understand more about God, and they mistakenly believe adults know more.  Are we learning from them or are we trying to teach them?

Children learn differently

  • Want to access not memorise information.  They don’t bother with memorisation, they bother with access.  Are we giving them the access and avenues they want.
  • They want access to experience not facts.  The Bible doesn’t come at you as a theology text, but as a bunch of people’s experiences.

Children have a new set of values

  • They are creative not rigid – it is why they play the same level of the same game several times.  We have multiple learning styles.
  • They do not like it when the church is perceived as judging rather than accepting and loving.
  • Interested in relationship not position – don’t care on title but on whether the other person is interested in a relationship with them.
  • Children’s engagement related to change
  • What changes are significant
  • It is not about simply entertaining.  Sometimes when you encounter God you’re not always entertained, sometimes meet him in silence, sometimes challenged and browbeaten etc.

Learning Spaces: Messy Research

  • Create a Research Hypothesis
  • Roundtable discussions with theoreticians and practitioners
  • In UK and USA
  • Formulate a theory for testing

Test with qualitative research

  • Focus groups with children (aged 8-11 years old), parents, and practitioners of spiritual formation.

Initial findings

  • Indicators of Spiritual Vitality
  • 3 possible domains shown in the USA and UK: God, myself and others.

Theory of Spiritual Vitality

  • Interdependence of domains
  • What comes first?

Can we quantify pre-teen Spiritual Vitality?

If we were to measure Jesus on this scale we would have three completely over layed circles – completely perfect spiritually.  But on the negative side we would have three circles completely unrelated.

“It is not so much that it is a question of spiritual development but the development of the battle for spiritual vitality.”

Next Steps

  • Define sub-factors
  • Research review – how do other sciences quantifying such factors?
  • Create a prototype based on best practices.
  • Validate assessment results – need to test with children that the model is right.  Children have deep awareness of their spiritual life.