Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

Ears to Hear and i+1

i+1Wherever it may come from—a mind given over to Yahweh, in defiant denial of Him, or anywhere in between—all wisdom is Yahweh’s. When we see the intersection of wisdom from the Sacred Scriptures and educational theory we observe the Kingdom among us teachers and students, cultivating shalom.

One such principle is known in second language acquisition as comprehensible input or i+1. The concept, when viewed from the perspective of meaningful learning, supposes that every learner is coming at the task at hand from somewhere (i), that there is a base of knowledge that informs how new material (+1) is learned and whether it becomes a part of the knowledge base or slides right through the ear and past the eye. The trick is discovering what iis so that +1 is an incremental step beyond a student’s current level. Students have to have the ears to hear in order to acquire new concepts.

Stephen Krashen, the author of the five hypotheses that includes i+1, also put forward that language is either acquired or learned and that acquiring language is the ideal. Dichotomies, sharp uncrossable lines between concepts, are now out of fashion in both educational theory and faith. Instead they are reinterpreted as points at the opposite poles of a continuum, holding seemingly contradictory states in both/and tension.

For example, the rules governing a language function (like explaining a process) may be learned and comprehended but not yet be producible by the learner. When it is acquired, it is useful language perhaps before the student can articulate the rules that govern it. Both are valuable parts of the language learning process. In faith, a believer is both sinner and saint. The making new process, like learning another language, is a long one. While we are still in the body and in the wilderness, we are ignorant, weak, in danger, and in need of aid.[1] We incrementally acquire and live the good news in all of our moments. This is the integration of grace and truth perfectly modeled in the Master.

When the Master taught, it was puzzling for some, it heightened awareness in others, and a mere word changed a few ripe lives. The Master repetitively challenged his students to have ears to hear. You don’t have to scratch me deep to find my inconsistencies, my hypocrisy. In moments of clarity, I can see that He has begun a good work in me and that +1 by +1, I am making incremental steps towards the ideal, living fully human in likeness to the Master. With Paul, I declare that I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but I press on toward the goal.

Perhaps one of the best practices we teachers can model is tenacity, perseverance, eyes fixed. A goal, like fluency in a second language or likeness to the Master, may yet be unattainable but it is a worthy pursuit and the step-by-step from i to +1 and onwards will take us and the students who follow us into territory flowing with good things like increasing ease of language output and a heart more knit to Yahweh visible in an integrated life.

[1]Arthur Bennett (editor), The Valley of Vision, “Lord’s Day Morning

Further exploration

  • John 1:1-18
  • Philippians 3
  • H. Douglas Brown (2007), Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, Chapter 10: “Toward a Theory of Second Language Acquisition.”

What’s your perspective?

  • What Kingdom principle do you see in educational theory?
  • What +1 are you currently acquiring in your faith?

Post Author

Kimberly Todd

Photo Credit: premasagar via Compfight cc

5 comments on “Ears to Hear and i+1

  1. Bethintibet
    April 30, 2014

    Great article! Knowing where and how we stand in Him (forgiven and loved) allows us to move forward in His blessings. Likewise, knowing where our students stand allows us to teach them more wisely (the old zone of proximal development).


  2. Kimberly Todd
    May 1, 2014

    Thanks, Beth! That this concept has so many names (I forgot about proximal development) and has been articulated by so many thinkers affirms that there is divine wisdom in it. I like the words you chose (forgiven and loved) to express identity. It's enough for life and godliness, isn't it?


  3. Amy Young
    May 1, 2014

    Love the idea of +1 as applied to God's work in us. Now I”m thinking — what area in me might God be +1ing me now?


  4. Kimberly Todd
    May 2, 2014

    Amy, it's good to see you here. I love the question you've drawn from this, +1 as a verb. It is an active process, isn't it?


  5. Shelly
    June 7, 2014

    Amy, I agree that the idea of +1 as a picture of His work in us is a great one. It's so encouraging to think of it like that. I am “here” and He is helping to be “there” (+1), and He continues to take me from wherever I am to the place He wants me to be. (I'm not speaking in geographic terms here.)


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This entry was posted on April 30, 2014 by in i+1, Kimberly Todd, meaningful learning, Yahweh's wisdom.



Photo Credit: Eric Fischer via Compfight cc
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