A teacher unfamiliar with Gregory’s Seven Laws of Teaching is like a New Testament scholar being unfamiliar with the epistles of Paul. Carl Shafer applies Gregory’s laws to the Sunday school setting Most teachers, even those with formal education, have never heard of the Seven Laws of Teaching. This was my experience after completing a doctorate in education. The Seven Laws of Teaching, written over one hundred years ago by John Milton Gregory, are like the original scrolls of education, holding the secrets of effective and excellent teaching. Gregory, educated as a lawyer, was a Baptist minister as well as a distinguished educator. He served as superintendent of public instruction in Michigan (1850–1865), then was president of Kalamazoo College and the first president of the University of Illinois.
Gregory’s Seven Laws of Teaching, first published as a book in 1884, are clear and simple factors governing the skill and art of teaching. The laws are like seven hilltops of different height, scattered over the landscape. As one climbs each hill, various points in landscape can be seen with additional perspective. My abridgment of his work are efforts to make Gregory’s thoughts and language more available, readable, and understandable to teachers today.


The Seven Laws of Teaching are so simple and natural that they almost suggest themselves, yet the laws are profound even to experienced teachers.

  1. The teacher must know the lesson, truth, or art to be taught.
  2. The learner must show interest in the lesson, truth, or art to be taught.
  3. The language used as a medium between the teacher and the learner must be common to both.
  4. The lesson to be mastered must be given in terms of truth already known by the learner—the unknown must be explained by means of the known.
  5. Teaching must arouse the students to learn things for themselves.
  6. Learning is thinking into one’s own understanding a new idea or truth, or working a new art or skill into a habit.
  7. Teaching must be completed, confirmed, and tested by review, rethinking, and application.


Almost Every Answer for Practically Any Teacher by Bruce Wilkinson