Like Riding a Bike: Overcoming the Fear of Experiential Learning

Like Riding a Bike: Overcoming the Fear of Experiential Learning
June 2, 2017 Joani Schultz

by Joani Schultz

“People talk about bike riding when they want to remind us that some things, once learned, are not forgotten.

What they don’t mention is how we learned. No one learns to ride a bike from a book, or even a video.

You learn by doing it.

Actually, by not doing it. You learn by doing it wrong, by falling off, by getting back on, by doing it again.

PS this approach works for lots of things, not just bikes. Most things, in fact.”

Those words of wisdom came from Seth Godin—a favorite blogger of mine.

Since I’ve spent my life lifting up the value of experiential learning in ministry, Seth’s blog really caught my attention.

It astounds me that teachers choose lecture over experience—especially when research says we retain up to 90% of what we experience compared to 10% of what we hear. It’s like wanting to get across town—fast—and deciding to walk instead of ride a bike. Riding a bike gets you where you want to go faster.

So why are we afraid of experiential learning (bike riding)?

Maybe it’s more about us being okay about “not doing.” Not doing things perfectly. By falling off. By trying again. By being willing to fail.

Group resources provide boatloads of practical ideas that require leaders to thrust learners into experiences and conversations. But why do some leaders resist using active learning? Or inviting people to talk in pairs during a sermon? Or investing in a Group Mission Trip? Or reaching their community through Lifetree Cafe?

Is it a fear of “falling off our leadership bike”? Like learning to ride a bike, We. Can. Do. This.

Let’s give experiential learning a whirl. Let go of our fears…

Our fear of looking silly.

Our fear of letting others grapple with issues without our “wisdom.”

Our fear others might not arrive at “the right answer.”

Our fear of making people uncomfortable.

Our fear of an experience taking too much time.

Our fear of our discomfort with a new methodology.

Our fear of trusting the Holy Spirit to really work.

We, as leaders, will never ride the “bike” of experiential learning if we’re not willing to fall off a few times.

Let’s do it!

Chief Creative Officer of Group Publishing, author of Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore and Why Nobody Wants to Be Around Christians Anymore and producer of When God Left the Building.

2 Comments

  1. James 2 years ago

    There’s pseudo-science, fake news …. I don’t know what the post on experiential learning is: Education? Advice? Opinion? In any case, it strikes me as confused. Of course, the fault likely lies entirely with me. Riding a bicycle is an activity, which requires some physical, bodily training. Yes, the best way to learn to do that activity is experiential. Knowledge of truth — unlike training for bicycle riding — can be acquired via books or lectures.
    Additionally, a goal of experiential knowledge, the post claims, is speed: like riding a bicycle as opposed to walking. Are there really not any benefits associated with walking; or is speed a primary, exclusive consideration?
    The only reason we do not teach or learn truth “experientially” is due to fear? It seems to me [ — It is my “experience,” if I may … –] that hearing or reading truth IS itself an experience. This learned truth will have effect on behavior and character greater than the ability to balance and peddle a bicycle.

  2. Steve 2 years ago

    Our English language is inadequate compared to the Greek regarding the word Know. There are two distinct and different words for knowing. One means intellectual knowledge and one means experiential, ginosko and epiginosko. So you have a very scriptural point that often gets lost in this present day.

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