Monday, April 10, 2006


One of the important things in Lonergan is the way he, unquestionably, begins from the standpoint of the knower, but claims that, once we have come to reasonable certainty through rigorous thinking (including what is now being called metacognition), we have come to a defensible "objective" position. George Siemens, in a recent post, approaches this when he says, "The more precisely something can be conceived as subjective, the more it becomes objective." Further, in agreement with Dave Cormier's reference to "exploration," George's perspective resonates with what Lonergan calls "intentionality analysis": (in terms that I can understand) our built-in curiosity, the desire to know, that (I think) educators need to exploit. Later, Lonergan "cranked this up a notch," speaking instead of an intention to love--very interesting in light of the impetus toward community in those using social software.


Denham Grey is working on Social Knowledge (wiki); Clarence Fisher, in a post on the educational potential of gaming, says about community:

"A community needs to be nurtured and grown. It cannot be created, it must create itself over time. It can be fed and helped along, but for a true community to emerge takes time, understanding, and knowledge of models of growth."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Trying and trying again

Some excellent advice from Karen Schwalm: "Teaching, with technology or without it, is a constant 'punch and feint,' trying one approach, measuring the response and impact, trying another approach, rethinking and redesigning the activity, getting feedback from students and really listening to it, trying again. Cool tools provide us more options, and we can create and re-create things quickly. First it's trial and error; then it's more focused classroom research. But it's still that upsy-down of the sine curve of teaching with technology."
Almost makes me want to try a hybrid class--f2f & online--again (someday).

Collegiality and collaboration

Excellent post by Christopher Sessums the other day--it resonates so much with what I want to promote in and among theological institutions.
Here is my paper given at the Abilene conference (in pbwiki).

Top 10 Clues

I'm on our Anti-Harassment Committee and am helping with a presentation to our faculty council this morning. As part of the discussion, Jacqueline is giving the "Top 10 clues that a student is infatuated with you."

Saturday, April 01, 2006


A quick change of subject because I also want to use this blog space to remember my adventures in cycling. I was to Moose Jaw & back Saturday am (and then played an April fool's joke on both kids, saying my bike had been stolen) and then again on Sunday. So far this year, I have made trips from Maple Creek to the Cypress Hills park on January 8 and to Regina (one way) on January 26. I couldn't resist taking advantage of the unusually warm winter--which lasted until the first day of spring!
My so-sweet bike was a Christmas gift from my family. Aren't they great?


Hauerwas was his usual irrascible, boundary-pushing self. He set the tone with his "Theological Knowledge and the Knowledges of the University."
Billy Abraham, in his "Theology in the University in a Hobbesian World," helped me see where my overly optimistic views need a corrective. He notes that higher ed in North America operates on a 2-track system where scholars either dismiss revelation claims & study them phenomenologically or allow those claims but confine them to confessional contexts. His position is that we just need to accept this and "get on with it"; his advice is to do your best work and expect opposition and derision. On the other hand, he says theology needs to regain its proper place in the university; because "divine revleation is a threshold concept," we need to "pursue everything in the light of its resources--and we don't know all that that involves until we get there." He appealed to John Webster's appeal that we "develop a theological theology." His prescription for theologians if we are to avoid a pedestrian "nice" (my word) naivete: 1. boldness and a recovery of nerve, 2. depth and epistemological self-awareness, 3. imagination and creativity. He quoted Sarah Coakley on cultivating the intellectual and spiritual virtues that transcend polarization, from an article in Christian Higher Learning, a journal that I haven't been able to find. Apparently, it's a Routledge publication, but there's nothing about it on their site.
Ellen Charry spoke of scientia leading to sapientia through love & empathy. I wish she had had time for what she wanted to say about empathy (an interest of mine, as is obvious from earlier posts here), but her focus on the connection between pedagogy and formation (teachers as shepherds) was very helpful. She maintains that Foucault's "power" framework is apt only in the absence of such formation and a focus on the awareness of the knower.
Darryl Tippens (provost of Pepperdine) tied the conference themes together with an application to Church of Christ higher ed institutions, emphasizing that a "vibrant articulation of Christian vision" ("telling the best story") is the most impportant characteristic needed in a Christian university. He also recommends a focus on research scholarship, a community rich in memory, a radical hospitality, a heart-centered ethos (in the Biblical sense), a sacramental welcoming of mystery, wisdom and discernment that includes modelling & building community, practical service, and the spiritual development of faculty.
All in all, very good stuff, and a good push on my way to getting down to business on my research project!

Theology in the Christian University

Back from the conference and recovering from the drive to Texas, I'm finally getting around to updating my blog. I really have to find some way to do this on a more regular basis. Anyway, the conference was good--a first for Abilene Christian University's grad school, but well handled by point man Fred Aquino. From all I heard there, he's doing a great job of promoting conversations across confessions. My paper featured a call for collaboration and community as a theological approach to academia, particularly through the affordances of social software. Interestingly, that theme was an undercurrent in several of the breakout sessions and keynotes. I picked up some important ideas to be added to my paper, and I will soon post a link to it on my pbwiki so I can get some more feedback. It's cool to see people across the institution doing theology in practical ways. (In that regard, I just listened to a podcast interview with Miroslav Volf re: his theological method, and I think I've found my home!)
I shared a presentation slot with the library folks, and it was very encouraging to see them applying the NT concept of hospitality (in the sense of welcoming strangers and sending on itinerant teachers) to their work with students. In practical terms, that's meant making the reference desk a welcoming, working-together kind of space instead of the imposing gatekeeper fortress it is in many libraries. Also, to encourage conversation in a "Learning Commons," they've added a coffee bar to the library. Imagine--no more "Shush" and "You can't bring that in here!"
Another presenter explored the theological issues around an exploration of the blues--the kind of music we'd never hear in church but has to be taken into account in an understanding of the human condition, including our own.
A shared presentation on the place of formation in the Christian university, from the perspective of Orthodoxy and through the lens of Clement of Alexandria's metaphor of "statues of the Lord," had some very rich content for me to process, particularly Clement's description of "educated Christians" (David Kneip's "translation" of C's "gnostics") as "forming and creating themselves" as "assistant sculptors." Sounds like constructivism to me. :)
More on the keynote speakers later: Stan Hauerwas, William Abraham, Ellen Charry, Darryl Tippens.