Wednesday, November 29, 2006

CTE presentation

I used Wikispaces to introduce to my classmates in the Centre for Theological Education some of the tools available for online learning, and questions around their application in our contexts. I had a good time, and there was good discussion of important issues, so I think it was a success. I'll know it was if discussion continues via the wiki.
Then I opened my bloglines to surf for a bit when I got home, and found that the first two keynote speakers mentioned on the website advertising Online Educa, happening now in Berlin, are
  • Hon. Prof. George Saitoti, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Kenya
  • George Siemens, eLearnspace & Complexive Systems Inc., Canada
Robert, one of the CTE students, knows Hon. Professor George Saitoti, and I consider George Siemens a friend, though we've yet to meet face-to-face.

Book for review

The kind folks at Wipf & Stock have sent me (in spite of the overseas shipping rates) a copy of Ted Newell's "Education Has Nothing to Do with Theology": James Michael Lee's Social Science Religious Instruction, Princeton Theological Monograph Series (Eugene, OR: Pickwick/Wipf & Stock, 2006) for review, so I've got some reading (& writing) to do--looking forward to it!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Even Thanksgiving is about Shopping

Boxing Day sales have become an expected, if unfortunate, part of our sadly shriveled western culture. I hadn't realized that Thanksgiving has succumbed, too. (No criticism meant of Dave Warlick--he's just the messenger.)
Contrast this from David Guretzki, who explores the fatal choice in Eden as "an act of ingratitude!":
I think of how small children (and maybe us more often than we want to
admit!) can have dozens of toys to choose from, but only want the one that
they do not have or have been kept from playing with. It is hard to imagine
that truly thankful persons would be tempted to covet that which has been
withheld from them. It is only when we are no longer thankful for that which
we already have that our ingratitude leads us to disobey God by coveting
that which we do not have. And it is then, perhaps, that we are most tempted
to get what we want in ways that we know can only be displeasing to God.
Perhaps on this Thanksgiving weekend, we need to be reminded that being
thankful is not just something good to do alongside all the other good
things we should do. Rather, being thankful might be the very essence of
what it means to live Christianly in a world where "getting more" is what we
are told life is all about. As Paul says in Colossians 2:6-7, "So then, just
as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and
built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and
overflowing with thankfulness." In Christ, we have all that we need. The
question is, Are we thankful for what we have received in him?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A great analogy

This is from David Smith’s address at Calvin College April, 2001:

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Learning in Community

Harry Daniels [Harry Daniels, Vygotsky and Pedagogy (London; New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2001), 42, 43] reviews contemporary debate in ed. psych. on how the individual learns in/from community: “The critical issue is with respect to whether the resources that a collective culture embodies are regarded as fixed offerings from which the individual selects or they constitute the starting points for negotiation.” This is strikingly similar to questions raised as we see Vanhoozer (Drama of Doctrine) reworking Lindbeck’s cultural-linguistic theory in Nature of Doctrine. If we put this in the context of constructivism in (theological) education/epistemology, we can say that both view learners as constructing their understanding of texts, but Vanhoozer, drawing largely on John Webster, calls for conforming our understanding to the texts as to things-as-they-are: reading with the view to “dwelling within” the text and living the Christian life as performing the established texts; Lindbeck sees exactly the texts more as artefacts to be shaped in my construction of understanding (myself, my world, God). Torrance’s insistence on the isomorphism of ontology & epistemology is relevant here, too—we must allow the object of our study to dictate to us the categories & method by which we learn about it.

Daniels quotes G. Wells, Dialogic Inquiry: Toward a Sociocultural Practice and Theory of Education (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 322-23, and his analogy of learning to dance as it illustrates learning-in-community (participating in the dance—learning to dance by dancing with others, very much like Vanhoozer’s “dramatic performance” model), but implies that some may need individualised, directed intervention from an instructor to learn the basics, including the techniques, of dancing-as-it-ought-to-be-done. That caution is an important corrective for Lindbeck’s cultural-linguistic theory, for Linda Zagzebski’s thesis re: virtue epistemology (that we learn to be virtuous and to act virtuously by observing virtuous examples), and also for constructivism itself. There are probably significant times when we learners need direct instruction in the established texts.