16:21 Facilitating Learning


Jan Amos Comenius, innovative educator.

The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increases learning. Proverbs 16:21

In one of her poems, Emily Dickenson wrote, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” I always interpreted this to mean to tell the truth but through simile, metaphor or other artistic devices that make knowledge more memorable and palatable—sweet lips that increase learning.

Centuries before Dickenson, the notable Christian educator Jan Amos Comenius had adopted a similar principle. He developed the first graded textbooks. These included pictures to make their content more memorable, a tactic followed by educators ever since.

Jesus also used the “slant” technique. He spoke in pithy parables and word illustrations, sarcasm, hyperbole, parallelism and other literary devices aimed to help his learners retain his word, including similes and metaphors. The results are some of the most memorable statements in all of literature, showing great wisdom and vividly illustrating the truths he wished to impart. He was the master exemplar of this proverb.

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