Friday, December 28, 2007

PhD Project Framework

(Click on the image of the title page to see the Google Video.)
I had the opportunity last month to present this paper at a mini-conference in the Education department at the U of S. I greatly appreciated the chance to clarify for myself, by explaining to others, how I'm approaching the issues of epistemology and learning that underpin my PhD project. After the conference, I decided to learn how to use Camtasia. I'm afraid that the finished product is still pretty rough, production-wise, but it has been a good learning experience all around. I can see now how I will frame my "Theologically Sound Model of Education Employing Internet-Inspired Approaches to Learning." Okay, that's not the title I submitted and had approved by the differentiation panel, but I did explain then that I was unhappy with the "social constructivist" part of the title I was using then. I haven't yet found the term that encapsulates precisely what I mean, so this lame one will have to do for now. Who knows--someone may comment on this post and provide just the thing I'm looking for!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Acquisition, participation, and creation?

Teemu Leinonen here and here refers to the work of Sami Paavola, Lasse Lipponen and Kai Hakkarainen, expanding the ideas presented in the 1998 Anna Sfard article "On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Danger of Choosing Just One."
Dr. Hugh Morrison at Queen's Belfast pointed out that article to me, and it's going to figure largely in my project. I was reading "participation" in Sfard, though, in terms of Aquinas's (Aristotelian) idea of knowing-as-participating. Now, I don't claim to understand that concept, but I know it's something I have to try to figure out, not least because it must shape Lonergan's insistence, from Aquinas, that knowing = being. I need someone to help me get a handle on ideas like those in David C. Schindler, “Towards a Non-Possessive Concept of Knowledge: On the Relation Between Reason and Love in Aquinas and Balthasar,” Modern Theology 22 (October 2006): 577-607.
I'm ordering copies of the Paavola article and another from 2005 so I can follow the "trialogic" idea, but in the way that I read Sfard, creation would be a subset of participation in the sense that, for example, someone who edits a Wikipedia article (creating) is participating in that knowledge community.
I was thinking of expanding Sfard's two to three, as well, but the metaphor I would add is "achievement," which would seem to be the way these authors read "participation": one learner interacting with a body of knowledge.
Both Eugene Peterson and Scot McKnight allude to participating in community as two-way: receiving and contributing, and it wouldn't be hard to connect this to current Trinitarian thought.
So . . . work to do.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Separated at birth?

Fred Penner

Paul Moser

Our kids loved Fred Penner's show, and I'm proud that he's from the Canadian Prairies.
Paul Moser at Loyola is doing some very interesting work on idolatry. (Very cool that he has excerpts from Thielicke, among others.) Is there something significant in Moser's theme of "The Return of the Prodigal" and Penner's signature song, "The Cat Came Back"?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Knowing and Believing

Michael Pahl posts on certainty vs. conviction--good stuff. I'm working through Kellenberger's The Cognitivity of Religion and finding much to appreciate about his 3rd perspective, mediating between those of Kierkegaard and Aquinas, for example. His thesis is that discovery-realisation knowledge is different from enquiry-based knowledge. What he's saying has a lot to do with the kind of conversion that Lonergan speaks of and also speaks to concerns that Torrance (relying on Kierkegaard) has. Most importantly, he focuses on belief as a matter of the will informed by cognition. Unfortunately, the perspective contains very little Christology--perhaps not a surprise, since the book is part of a series on theology & philosophy whose general editor is John Hick.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Aha! moments

Lonergan posits that all learning revolves around moments of insight, and I've had several of those lately. I've been wrestling with understanding what's at issue in what William Abraham (in Canon & Criterion and more recently in Crossing the Threshold) calls the epistemology of theology. Christopher Lutz (Tradition in the Ethics of MacIntyre, 120-21) says "MacIntyre defends a reading of Thomas Aquinas according to which Thomism is a synthesis of the Augustinian and Aristotelian traditions that preceded it." He shows how, "according to MacIntyre, Thomism, with some modification, brings together the Aristotelian and the Augustinian accounts of truth as complementary parts in a more comprehensive and satisfactory whole ." He quotes Macintyre's statement in Three Rival Versions (123) to the effect that "Aristotle's account of the rational world became recognizably the prologue required for an Augustinian theology," and his Aquinas Lecture (First Principles. . .): "The complexity of Aquinas's view is a consequence of his having integrated into a single account theses both from Aristotle and Islamic commentary upon Aristotle, and from Augustine and Anselm. But the integration is what is most important" (my emphasis). That helps me tremendously: assumptions regarding "truth as it is" and "how I pursue truth" are an integrated whole that involves a back-and-forth movement (like the hermeneutical circle, but epistemology is broader than hermeneutics).
I've also read some of Ellen Charry on the "pastoral function of Christian doctrine," and really appreciate her emphasis on practices & virtues, built on her premise that "the classic theologians based their understanding of human excellence on knowing and loving God, the imitation or assimilation to whom brings proper human dignity and flourishing" (18).
Along with this, I've been reading Understanding and Being, Lonergan's 1957 Halifax Lectures, and finally discovered something that helps me get a handle on the extremely dense Insight.
Finally, I've also greatly enjoyed the Online Connectivism Conference facilitated by George Siemens, in which one of the respondents posting in a Moodle forum suggested that what George is proposing is more about epistemology than a learning theory.
Cool! All of this is beginning to come together; now if I can get it down in print . . .

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stapleford Conference

I was privileged to attend the Stapleford Centre's "Transforming Lives? Transforming Culture?" conference, held in the comfortable facilities of the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire. I presented a seminar paper on "Transformation and Conversion in the Quest for Knowledge" (top marks if you recognise the allusion to Torrance's book), and was able to clarify for myself something of where I want to go with the argument in my thesis. The keynote speakers were very good, and I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Dr. Clare Watkins.
I (understandably) expected to know no-one at the conference except my new friend David (whom I met thanks to the conference organiser who noted that we are both "from" the Belfast area) and John Shortt, whom I had met only via email. I was surprised, then, to recognise a face, and it took me a while to figure out that he had attended, and presented at, the "Education & Theology" conference in Texas in March. Then I met Harold and discovered that I have facilitated Distance Learning courses for his daughter (I think) and son-in-law, whose home church in Ottawa is the one my brother-in-law and his family attend. Small world, indeed!


This Periodic Table of Visualization Methods is really rich with possibilities for someone like me--I don't know if seeking to understand by "putting everything into a diagram" qualifies me as a visual learner, but that's often the only way I can figure out relationships & salience. Thanks to Nancy White for the link.