Flashcards as Faithcards

They are simple pieces of cardstock with words and sometimes images on them. Our teachers drilled us on the alphabet, multiplication tables and later French verbs flipping rapidly through them. They are one of the simplest but most effective educational tools invented – flashcards.

We don’t know who first used them, but we know that they came into use in the 1800’s. Paper had become readily available but was still too expensive for many to buy. In their desire to spread the Word of God, religious groups in America began offering free reading classes to those who could not pay to go to school. Among those promoting this was John Lancaster, a Quaker. He suggested putting spelling words and other material on boards to for the teacher to hold up and instruct the children, an early precursor to the flashcard.

Around the same time in England Favell Lee Bevan, who oversaw religious education for children on her father’s estates, developed a system of teaching reading with phonics on cards. Soon, using flash cards was a standard educational practice.

Among the reasons flashcards continue to be a popular learning tool is that they lend themselves to any subject. Recently my youngest son made a set of cards from the company website with the photos and names of all the employees at his new job. He arrived for his first day knowing the name of everyone on his team.

Flash cards are also immediately reinforcing, as you quiz yourself and make higher and higher stacks of cards you got correct.

One might think that technology has done away with flashcards; instead, it has provided a new way to deliver flashcards. Many e-reader textbooks come with a flashcard function as a way to review key concepts. You can also create your own for any book in an e-reader through the notes function. Apps from companies such as Brainscape offer flashcards on subjects from foreign languages to medical and legal terms that can be downloaded to your phone or computer.

Like those early students, flashcards have had an impact on my religious life. While in college, I was introduced to the Navigator’s Topical Memory System made up of verses on small cards to make it easy to memorize and meditate on portions of Scripture. (You can now get the memory system as an app). After completing their course of study, I began making my own Scripture cards as a way to fix God’s Word in my heart (Deuteronomy 11:18). Carrying the card for the verse I am currently learning helps me not only progress in the memorization but also gives me an uplifting thought as I go about my day.

I even use flashcards in my prayer time. I put a person’s name at the top with requests below. I often add a Scripture verse concerning the petition, which builds my faith as I pray.

They are simple pieces of cardstock, but they have eternal value.

What about you? How could you use flashcards to build your faith?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pat Rentschler
    Jul 18, 2018 @ 09:01:40



  2. Shirley Casebolt
    Jul 18, 2018 @ 13:09:47

    Very interesting and great suggestion. Thank you for writing about this subject. Looking forward to this fall when bible study starts back up. Wednesdays come and I keep feeling I am forgetting something I am to do. LOL


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