Jane Vella very helpfully takes “Learning to Task” distiinguishing between “teaching tasks” and “learning tasks”. She points out what most of us already know. That is, active learning is the most effective and active learning is done through “tasks”. Confession time now. I confess all the hours I have put in to the teaching task and how little I have put into developing learning tasks. I have worried about what I have to present – is it clever enough, is it full enough, is it understandable? What I should have been worrying about is developing the opportunities for active learning.
Socrates knew it. Jesus knew it. The Buddha knew it. Every open question asked as the peripatetic crowd in white togas strolled around Athens, every parable put to the crowds at the lakeside, every subtle image set for unravelling in the heat of India was a learning task….
African youth in their cohort, facing a challenging route to manhood, are given a set of learning tasks. Astronauts who are facing an inviting universe move through a gruelling set of learning tasks. A new mother, apprehensive and humble with her infant in her arms, faces a daunting daily set of learning tasks.
Jane Vella suggests four types of learning task.
Induction tasks – they are tasks to connect us with what we already know and with our unique context.
Input tasks – they are tasks inviting us to examine new input – concepts, skills and attitudes.
Implementation tasks – they are tasks that get us to do something directly with that new context – implementing it.
Integration tasks – these tasks integrate this new learning into our lives, applying what we have learned to our life and work.
In the back of my mind I have a model framework for our liturgy – it’s sadly a bit like a song I can’t get out of my mind. The overall framework is “hospitable” – with four sections. First, there is what is called “the gathering”, then there is the “Liturgy of the Word” (here’s the teaching), then there is the “Liturgy of the Sacrament” and finally that little bit at the end called “Dismissal”. Without too much force I find this mirrors thr four types of task.
Induction tasks – “Gathering”
Input tasks – “Liturgy of the Word”
Implementation tasks – sharing the Peace, gathering round the table, sharing the one cup
Integration tasks – going in peace to love and serve the Lord and live the Gospel.
There’s a challenge here. And the challenge is how to switch from “teaching tasks” to ” learning tasks”. If Jane Vella (with Knowles, Freire et al) is right, effective discipling depends on that switch.