What are we trying to accomplish when we teach? Teaching without aims is like a man trying to hit a target without aiming.
Aims are clear statements of what we hope to accomplish by teaching the lesson. Write these down. Ask (1) What do I want my students to know as a result of this lesson? (2) What do I want my students to feel? (Attitudes and convictions I wish to impart.) (3) What specifically do I want my students to do during and after the lesson? Vague lesson aims result in vague teaching. How will we know if we hit the target if we do not know what the target is? Teaching without clear‑cut aims is probably the greatest weakness of teaching. On the other hand, when we know specifically what we want to accomplish, our teaching will be more effective.
Clear‑cut aims serve several purposes in teaching. Aims (1) give direction regarding the changes we want in the knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of the students; (2) help the teacher to avoid rambling. Omit activities or material that will not help us to accomplish our aim; (3) help us to select materials, activities, and teaching methods. For example, if our aim is to develop tolerant attitudes, we may choose the discussion method. If our aim is to teach soul winning through home visitation, we might create a role‑playing situation; (4) provide a sound basis for measurement of progress via questions, quizzes, etc.; (5) inspire the teacher who sees goals achieved.
How does a teacher determine his lesson aims? If teaching from a printed lesson, consider the aims included. Read the Bible text several times, pray, and allow God to impress some aims. Also, consider the needs and interests of the class by listening to them and observing their behavior both inside and outside of class and by knowing general characteristics of their age group.
Everything in a lesson, including attention getters, variety, humor, visuals and activities, should be planned to accomplish the aims. With the aims clearly in mind, let us teach with the intensity of a football player running for the goal line.
Arlo and Jane Moehlenpah have taught Teacher Training at a number of Bible colleges and seminars. Contact them at Moehlenpah@aol.com or 619-852-4979 if you would like their book Teaching with Variety or for them to come to your area for a seminar.