“Though I speak with the tongues of humans and angels, and even have interactive Applets embedded in my PowerPoints, but have not pedagogy, I am become as sounding brass and a clanging cymbal”

Steve Delamarter et al Teaching Theology and Religion, 2007, vol 10 no.2, pp. 64-79

Aha moments

From Friday Mailing:

From Ed Sanders (Richard Cooke says these are ‘ reflections on his practice as a university teacher. As well as being an outstanding NT scholar himself, Sanders has also produced a rich crop of graduate students – the quote below may show why!’)

“I think that the greatest moment in a teacher’s life is seeing a student have an “ah ha” moment by his or her own endeavor. The instructor’s clever or even memorable phrasing is worth much less. I began my career by overestimating students: I did not realize how much they needed repetition and the practice of describing texts and ideas in their own words. The more patient I was, and the harder I worked at getting them to see things for themselves—rather than offering my own glib solutions of difficulties—the better I was at teaching and the more rewarding I found the activity. The hardest thing to do—at which I often failed in my early years—is to find the students’ own level.”

The whole thing is at http://www.duke.edu/web/gradreligion/documents/GPRnewsfall2008.pdf.

>The colour of training and a bit of juggling

>Tim Ling uncovered this for a recent conference:
Reed Learning asked its course delegates “what colour is training?”
Replies: green 44%, blue 18%, yellow 11%, red 10%, black! 5% & pink 5%
Fascinating insight or utter nonsense?
Well – some would describe green as the colour of growth, development and transformation. It is also thought to stimulate new ideas and change.

In the meantime, here’s something to do while listening to your ipod – especially if you love the Beatles. You will need balls and it will intrigue passers-by.

>Taking learning to task

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Jane Vella very helpfully takes “Learning to Task” distiinguishing between “teaching tasks” and “learning tasks”. She points out what most of us already know. That is, active learning is the most effective and active learning is done through “tasks”. Confession time now. I confess all the hours I have put in to the teaching task and how little I have put into developing learning tasks. I have worried about what I have to present – is it clever enough, is it full enough, is it understandable? What I should have been worrying about is developing the opportunities for active learning.

She writes:

Socrates knew it. Jesus knew it. The Buddha knew it. Every open question asked as the peripatetic crowd in white togas strolled around Athens, every parable put to the crowds at the lakeside, every subtle image set for unravelling in the heat of India was a learning task….
African youth in their cohort, facing a challenging route to manhood, are given a set of learning tasks. Astronauts who are facing an inviting universe move through a gruelling set of learning tasks. A new mother, apprehensive and humble with her infant in her arms, faces a daunting daily set of learning tasks.

Jane Vella suggests four types of learning task.

Induction tasks – they are tasks to connect us with what we already know and with our unique context.
Input tasks – they are tasks inviting us to examine new input – concepts, skills and attitudes.
Implementation tasks – they are tasks that get us to do something directly with that new context – implementing it.
Integration tasks – these tasks integrate this new learning into our lives, applying what we have learned to our life and work.

In the back of my mind I have a model framework for our liturgy – it’s sadly a bit like a song I can’t get out of my mind. The overall framework is “hospitable” – with four sections. First, there is what is called “the gathering”, then there is the “Liturgy of the Word” (here’s the teaching), then there is the “Liturgy of the Sacrament” and finally that little bit at the end called “Dismissal”. Without too much force I find this mirrors thr four types of task.

Induction tasks – “Gathering”
Input tasks – “Liturgy of the Word”
Implementation tasks – sharing the Peace, gathering round the table, sharing the one cup
Integration tasks – going in peace to love and serve the Lord and live the Gospel.

There’s a challenge here. And the challenge is how to switch from “teaching tasks” to ” learning tasks”. If Jane Vella (with Knowles, Freire et al) is right, effective discipling depends on that switch.

Teaching and Learning

” A man began to give large doses of cod-liver oil to his Doberman because he had been told that the stuff was good for dogs. Each day he would hold the head of the protesting dog between his knees, force its jaws open, and pour the liquid down its throat.

One day the dog broke loose and spilled the oil on the floor. Then, to the man’s great surprise, it returned to lick the spoon. That is when he discovered that what the dog had been fighting was not the oil but his method of administration.”

From the ‘Education’ section of Anthony de Mello’s “The Heart of the Enlightened”

In my view, we are at that precise point in time when a four-hundred-year-old age is rattling in its deathbed and another struggling to be born. A shifting of consciousness, culture, society and institutions enormously greater than the world has ever experienced. Ahead, the possibility of liberty, community and ethics such as the world has never known, and a harmony with nature, with one another and with the divine intelligence such as the world has ever dreamed.

Unfortunately, ahead lies equal possibility of increasing institutional failure, enormous human and ecological carnage, and regression to even more mechanistic, tyrannical concepts of control, which, in turn, would have to collapse with even more carnage before chaordic institutions could emerge. It matters not a whit whether such regression and tyranny is in the hands of political, commercial or social institutions, or by what ideology we label them. In the end, it will come to the same.

We do not have an environmental problem. We do not have an education problem. We do not have a health care problem, a welfare problem, a political problem, an economic problem, a peace problem or a population problem. At bottom, we have an institutional problem, and until we deal with it we will struggle in vain with the all the symptoms.

Dee Hock

” A man began to give large doses of cod-liver oil to his Doberman because he had been told that the stuff was good for dogs. Each day he would hold the head of the protesting dog between his knees, force its jaws open, and pour the liquid down its throat.

One day the dog broke loose and spilled the oil of the floor. Then, to the man’s great surprise, it returned to lick the spoon. That is when he discovered that what the dog had been fighting was not the oil but his method of administration.”

A “story meditation” from the ‘Education’ section of Anthony de Mello’s The Heart of the Enlightened

>Book List

>Doing a bit reflecting in the shower I concluded that books no longer are my main source of learning. It’s probably debatable whether they ever were but the assumption was that a student needs books if s/he is going to learn. I would have to say that significant turning points – things that have set me thinking have been articles I have stumbled across on the internet and chance encounters and experiences. But books are easier to categorise – they are there on the shelf as visible reminders, and if I was to stack the ten which I think had had the most impact on me over the last ten years, these would be them:

  1. Transforming Mission by David Bosch
  2. Team Roles at Work by R Meredith Belbin
  3. Hard Times by Charles Dickens (and it only cost me a penny!)
  4. Transforming Priesthood by Robin Greenwood
  5. Ministry in Three Dimensions by Steve Croft
  6. I and Thou by Martin Buber
  7. A Sideways Look at Time by Jay Griffith
  8. Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan
  9. Being as Community by John Zizioulas
  10. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

These are books which have been memorable. Of course there are others – and I didn’t give it a great deal of thought – and I haven’t included any read in the last 12 months because it’s easy to be enthusiastic about what I’ve just read. None of them have been particulalry authoritative as once they might have been which leads me to conclude that the way we learn has changed so much and reflects our networked society – with one thing leading to another and learning being practical and contextual. Perhaps more relevant to me would be to list the 10 theories, or the ten thinkers, which have had the most impact on me – but that’s another post altogether.

Image is be Faeryan http://www.flickr.com/photos/faeryan/289547369/

>Leonard Cohen’s anthem

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http://www.youtube.com/get_player

There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in. That’s a line from Leonard Cohen’s anthem – play the video while reading the rest of this. He advises “forget your perfect offering”.

That sounds pretty sound advice to me because there is no perfect offering. I have just returned from a a training event led by Bishop Stephen Platten who is Chairman of the Liturgical Commission. One of the exercises we chose to do together was to devise a liturgy to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS. We decided that there had to be opportunity to confess how the NHS had not lived up to its ideals and that we needed to avoid triumphalism. It’s only when we admit there are problems that we can improve – institutionally and personally. Forget our perfect offering. There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.

I wonder if God designed us as “seconds” – cracks included. Without the cracks what use would be the light of the world?