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What is ‘chunk learning’?

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4

“Chunk learning” is a term that simply means to learn a chunk at a time.  In our eagerness to make sure that children learn what they need, it is often an impulse to expect too much of children.  An education professor once remarked to a graduating class of future teachers, “Don’t try to teach them all you know the first day of school”!

What happens when children are expected to learn too much at one time?  Sometimes they rebel because they realize they simply can’t learn that much.  They may get discouraged and feel that they are “dumb”.  They often come to dislike the subject being taught.

Many of us have seen a child sit with a sullen look on his/her face refusing to cooperate. Although not always the reason, sometimes it is because that child simply feels incapable of doing what is being asked.  No one wants to fail.  If the teacher or parent can break down the request and ask the child to do one simple part that will insure success, the child will usually respond.   Success builds on success.  Failure is magnified with failure.  Any time a child can feel good about what has been accomplished, that child is motivated to continue working.

Through my years of teaching classes of adults who wanted to get their GED, I have had many students who felt “dumb”.  “I have a learning disability”, they often told me.  In very few cases was this true.  Once we went back to where they got  off-track in school and took it a small step at a time, they began to see that they could learn.  Because of social promotion, many had been passed on without having learned the foundation necessary for what was being expected in the upcoming grades. They began to hate school and dropped out.

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We all like to do the things we are good at.  Nobody likes to be forced to do what they can’t do well.  By breaking the learning down in small steps that can easily be accomplished, children learn to like what they are doing.

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We provoke children when we become demanding in our expectations.  Love is patient.  As we work with children, we need to patiently help them be successful.  Our desire for the spiritual welfare of our children may tempt us to expect more than they are capable of producing.  As we are patient with them, we learn more about the way they think and their abilities.  Just as a Scripture verse is best learned a little at a time, so are other things.  Learning is a step-by-step process that can’t be rushed.  Just as a flower cannot be forced to bloom, neither can a child be forced to grow in knowledge and skill beyond innate ability. 

When we teach a little at a time and the child feels success, that child no longer has a desire to rebel, feel dumb, or dislike learning.



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