Questions. I love questions. I see questions as ideas waiting to be realized, or information that is about to be birthed. But questions can be scary for some people, because the foundation of what they believe to be true can be shaken. (Which is funny, because if it is the truth, no question will be able to change it.) I love questions. I believe that questions hold the tools for living fully and walking this journey undaunted.
One of the parts of my job that I love is to teach. I love high-school age students because they are not afraid to ask questions. The questions they ask in class and outside of class are always so inspiring and mind-blowing. I am always encouraged by their questions, because to question shows you are willing to grow. To question shows you are humble enough to admit that you don’t understand it all. And to question is to show courage that you believe there could be something better. Questioning is one of the biggest ways that we show we are spiritual creatures, capable of choice and able to find or create a better answer, if one does not exist.
As a teacher, there is this thing called Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a way to measure how a student learns, as well as what level of learning and thinking they are at. To be a good teacher means to encourage your students to be constantly growing higher in their level of thinking. Here’s what Bloom’s Taxonomy looks like:
As you can see, the first level of thinking and learning has to do with basic information, or “Knowledge”. In other words, know the facts about a subject and be able to remember what those facts are. The second level, “Understand”, deals with being able to understand the subject matter. In other words, how do you describe or explain, and how does it make sense. The third level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, “Apply”, is measuring whether the student can apply what he or she has learned and relate it to real life. These are the lower levels of thinking and learning. They are important, especially when learning a new topic or subject. But they are just lower levels and therefore stepping stones in getting to the higher levels of thinking. The next 3 levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy are considered the higher levels of thinking and what all good teachers should strive for their students to attain to.
The fourth highest level of thinking, “Analyze”, has to do with the student being able to analyze the material. In other words, being able to contrast or compare it with other materials, and be able to defend, or choose, the right answer and then explain why it is the right answer. The fifth highest level of thinking is to “Evaluate”. This means to basically be able to take the subject and defend it, critique it, justify it, support it, and possibly prove it, etc. (Sounds a lot like asking questions, right?!) The highest level of thinking is to “Create”. In other words, to be able to take all the knowledge you have from all the previous levels, and put it into a product of your creation. This means that after the Evaluation part of thinking, if there was anything that needed changing or improving, you now change it and improve it. This is the highest level of thinking because it uses all the faculties of the brain to take the information and not only apply it, but create a way of expressing it to the world, as well as making it a part of yourself. If you are a good teacher, this will be your goal in getting your students to strive for, not only in the subject matter that you teach, but in life as well.
So here’s the question: how are we doing in regards to Bloom’s Taxonomy in the Church? If the highest levels of thinking happen at the 3 higher tiers of Bloom’s (Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating), are we there as a church? Do we encourage and gently push each other towards these higher levels? Or is the church afraid of these higher levels of thinking? Is the church afraid of questions? Is the church worried what would happen to the truth if we promoted all people to not just be Analyzers and Evaluators, but ultimately Creators as well?
Don’t get me wrong. The lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy are very important. They have to be in place so that the higher levels can exist. If someone knows nothing about a subject, you can’t ask them to create or analyze it, without first learning it. But here’s what I see is the problem: We are stuck in the 3 lower levels of Bloom’s, when it comes to the Church, Spirituality or Religion. We focus on what you know, whether it’s true, and memorizing those facts. The church encourages people to understand truth – to describe and explain it. The church even encourages people to apply truth to their lives… and then we repeat those lower levels and never seem to move up to the higher levels of thinking and being. It seems that there are those who get very nervous when the 3 upper levels of thinking begin to take place within the church (which they naturally will, if a person is being encouraged to grow).
There are those who are very scared or worried when some begin to question, which, by the way, is just another form of Analyzing and Evaluating. There are some who will let others Create, just as long as they stay within the lines of the man-made box of politics and religion…which begs the question: Is that really creating? It’s almost like the scenario of a parent giving a child a coloring book. The child knows how to color, etc. But then the parent holds the child’s hand and guides the coloring. Is that creating? Why are some so afraid of questions, of growth, or of improvement?
Our church, and the Church at large, is ready for something. It’s ready for growth. In fact, the change, the spirituality, is happening. Some of it is happening within the church. And change, spirituality, higher levels of thinking, are happening outside the church, as well. Which raises the question: Is the church only contained within the walls of man-made institutions? Or could it be that it is growing beyond the walls of the box, because, as every good teacher knows, we were all made to live, know, and process on the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. And if the box does not promote that environment, it will still happen, but it may happen outside the box. We were all made to take what we have and know, and create something better. In education it is encouraged – that is, if you’re a good teacher. It’s high time we encouraged this within the church as well. If we don’t, the church will be stagnant. Could it be that it is already? But then again, could it be that the Church is alive and well – but it lives where the questions live, and it thrives where creations happen? Just some questions to ponder…