The Teacher’s Triad


In one of the seminary subjects called “Educational Principles and Methods,” I learned something of great value from a great teacher. She called this principle as the “teacher’s triad.” She said that each lesson plan should contain these three elements together. I found this teaching of great value for those in the teaching profession. If you want to be a great teacher, I think you need this when you are in a teaching situation.

Head, Heart, Hand

These are the three elements of a good lesson plan: head, heart and hand. These three must go together in a good lesson plan. In a nutshell, my professor said that the head  stands for that part of the lesson where the teacher gives the basics (facts, information, head knowledge) of what the lesson is all about. The heart stands for that part of the lesson where the teacher touches the heart or the feelings and emotions of the students. And lastly, the hand part of the lesson stands for practical application or the doing part of the lesson learned — the call to action part of the lesson.

Knowing, Being, Doing

I like to  call these three also as: knowing, being and doing.

Knowing has to do with the head.” We have to know the facts— the information, the truth. A good teacher, teaches his students about the basics of a certain topic, what is good, what is bad, what is important, what is not, etc. This is head knowledge. This is usually where we start — a good start. But we must not end there without ever moving on forward.

This applies as well when we study doctrines. But this head knowledge should also be tempered and another ingredient should be added to it and that is, the “heart”—or the “being” aspect of the teacher’s triad. Our head knowledge should sink in and go deep into our hearts. We “internalize” it. It becomes part of us—our being. This is the part where our knowledge should progress into or move forward into. We grow to maturity.

Normally, without us thinking about it, when we get to know more and more about a certain topic or person, our knowledge (head) so fills us up such that it actually becomes part our being (heart) which moves us into action—to doing (hand).

Paul’s Damascus Experience

I believe this is what happens when God leads or grants a person repentance  ( Rom. 2:4; Acts 11:18). That is, when God opens a person’s mind, it is a life-changing event. It is God who opens our minds and when that happens, it’s a life-changing experience.

Before his conversion, the apostle Paul was one who had great knowledge (knowing/head) about the Jewish faith and he had a lot of zeal (being/heart) and he persecuted Christians (doing/hand). But his knowledge was not according to God’s knowledge (the truth). After he encountered Christ on his way to Damascus, Paul became a changed person. His “Damascus experience” led him to  know Christ better this time which led to a heart change which led to doing the right things. When we experience Christ, we know him better than when we first knew him at the start.

Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom

As we go through experiences in life, our head knowledge becomes added with “better knowing” or “better understanding” of what life is all about.  And with  better understanding we gain wisdom — the ability to decide at the appropriate moment to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. After we know the basics, our experiences in life — it takes time — will hopefully lead us to knowing better who Jesus is and who we are in him.

Teacher’s Triad

Because of what we know (head), our being is affected (heart) which moves us to action (hand). These are the three ingredients of a good lesson plan—head, heart, handthe teacher’s triad. According to my teacher, a good lesson plan should say something about the head (basic facts), about the heart (touch the heart) and about the hand (appeal for action, practical application).

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