navigating plateaus

I teach English as a second language to international students at a university. One of the things you learn as a teacher is that students will plateau in their learning, acquisition and utilization of English.

This can be caused by many things such as over-saturation, educational exhaustion, complacency or ability. I believe it is helpful to educate the student not just on the subject being taught… in this case English… but to educate them on the process. Once a student learns about the inevitable fact that they will reach a plateau, then when it happens to them this self-knowledge may serve as a motivator for them to press through to the next level. If they want to become proficient.

The thing is, many students learning English are quite functional. They can get by with a minimal amount of learning. But that's the problem: they learn just enough to get by rather than persevere and advance to a higher functionality. They cope by surrounding themselves with others who are at the same level, or by depending on those who are more functional, or by returning home.

There are spiritual plateaus. We can come to a place that is comfortable, where we are functional enough to cope with every day life, and where we no longer feel the challenge or appreciate the complexities. We surround ourselves with people at the same level as we are. We read books or listen to messages by more functional experts to help us when we feel lost. Or we give up when get too close to the edge and retreat back to a less advanced state.

I think it is important to learn not just theology, but the process of its assimilation. Once we are educated on this spiritual process, then we also learn how to recognize a plateau when we come to one and perhaps learn the art of navigating it and pressing through to the next level.


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