January 7, 2008 - A Christian Philosophy of Adult Education-

Applications and Outcomes
Christian ministry and education seeks to transform the systems and bodies of knowledge of the world by subjecting them rigorously to the supremacy of God in all things. Since all truth is God’s truth, educators must also learn to apply research knowledge in the classroom environment. This research must be filtered through the grid system of a thoroughly biblical worldview, and the only possibility of this occurring is by the mediation of a highly developed Biblical literacy. As the authority and rule of life, we must hold up every theory, paradigm, and "fact" and let the light of Scripture shine upon it to sear and purify it or to destroy it.

The need for Christ centered interpersonal interaction to offset the droning of society is critical. Transformation begins in the learning environment that declares that all truth is God's truth. In any discipline, the methodology of the integration of faith and learning involves determining what is compatible with the Christian faith, what needs to be transformed, and what is to be rejected outright on the basis of scriptural understanding. One must be ready to confront one's understanding of Scripture, but never to bend the knee to "facts" interpreted in the non-Christian milieu. In education, this involves critiquing educational theory and cognitive science in the light of Christian truth. Students should be required by the curriculum to develop their powers of critical thinking and evaluation of theories based in the non-Christian world in assignments and projects in an overt fashion. It is imperative for students to understand that no theory is developed in a vacuum- identifying the worldview that informs the theory is paramount in determining what is compatible with Christian thought.

Learning requires focusing on what transforms the learners- becoming active participant and partakers, not passive sponges. God does not open the brain and pour information into his disciples. It is paramount to subscribe to a hedonism of learning- learners should derive pleasure from the learning process.
As outlined previously, transformative learning theory provides numerous directions for application of biblical principles in regard to adult ministry. Taylor (1997) surveyed the prodigious literature on transformative learning theory and identified essential practices based on the findings of eleven different empirical studies. These essential practices evidence a high degree of congruity with biblical themes.

According to Taylor (Taylor 1998, 47-62), transformative learning requires situation in a group setting. Examples of group situation in the biblical witness ranges from the education of Israel in the wilderness, the teaching of the assembly, and in New Testament times the rabbinic schools such as that of Gamaliel that Saul was educated in. Jesus’ education of the twelve is the greatest representation of this practice. A way in which this practice can be applied to andragogy would be in engaging participants in dialogue and in developing a sense of balance between personal agency and community in the learning environment. Jesus developed personal agency in the disciples by directly challenging their perspectives and introducing dissonance, then turning it into a learning opportunity, His "you have heard, but I say" imperatives challenged the status quo and provided mediational events for critical reflection for his learners. He provided times of reflection, action and generation such as when he taught the seventy upon their return, taking stock of daily events. The essentiality of dissonance and conflict and the necessity to act on new ideas are paramount to adult learning.

The theme of experiential learning involves creating experiences to help facilitate understanding among participants. Hands- on activities that engage learners across a range of learning styles are in view. Affective learning emerges from emotional involvement in action.

Time is a third applicative essential. Paul was taught for a prolonged in the desert and the disciples were in residence with Christ for three years, and the wilderness wanderings took forty years. Transformative learning typically takes time.
Researchers have found that transformative learning finds fertile place to grow in learners who are experiencing developmental events in their lives. Lorie Bailey studied transformative theory in application to adult seminary students (Bailey 1996). This is an important consideration for Christian educators in particular. Feelings often promote reflective learning. Affective learning plays a critical role in fostering transformative learning. However, as Issler and Habermas point out, affect must be subject to discipline (Issler and Habermas 1994, 180-181). Strategies for leveraging the affective domain include selectively dealing with the human perspective of what is being learned, and appropriately relating content to learner concerns and values (Issler and Habermas 1994, 115).

It becomes the teacher's main purpose to nurture persons and ideas by authorizing every student to take possession of the stewardship of their lives and thoughts, to value their intellectual power as created in the imago Dei, and to make known their own real and powerful presence in the world. We must recall that the etymology of the word "authority" is based in the French root, an old French word that means "to make grow, originate, promote, or increase." Bureaucracies cannot take that power the teacher has away. Educators need to provide a forum where student voices can extend to the edge of their current vision and where they are welcomed into their own God-given authority as stewards. This will allow for a discarding of imagined autonomy and restore a biblical mandate for the living of life.

Grace is not merely theology, we are to be people of grace. That involves having the students’ best interest at heart (not merely their desires), considering others to be better than you, and service means putting their needs above your own. An important aspect of equipping students to stand in the world is to be a willing and able model for them in the classroom. To model Christian integrity and passion is a high calling.

We can work to realize this by making the classroom a place that will enable students to say what they see and know through their reflection, their research, and of course through their reading and listening to the Holy Spirit as He speaks. This is much different approach than the derivative way so many experienced- to learn to recount the teacher's take on the author's take on the subject at hand. The curriculum must be fluid in order to open the way to the creation of new knowledge, to enhance the skill and the efficacy of the student. Or as Friere put it, ". . . to begin always anew, to make, to reconstruct, and not to spoil, to refuse to bureaucratize the mind, to understand and to live life as a process- live to become …" (hooks 1994,v.). To reiterate, the key for redeeming this purpose is to define the focus of "becoming" in biblical terms.

Primary is the requirement to communicate the authority of God’s Truth. Meaning operates in a relational capacity; we have authoritative revelation which we must learn to live in accord with. Therefore basic education requires that social interaction abilities be taught and mastered. These are both prerequisite to and intrinsic in any cyclical progression of learning. Training in righteousness presumes a righteous curriculum based on both maximization of human social interaction and right relationship to God. There is a systematic body of knowledge as well as an understanding of the imperatives of revealed Truth to contend with. All truth is God’s truth, so information must be filtered through the sieve of Biblical reality.

The curriculum must be deemed to be applicable because of its practicality, but practicality is redefined as that which works in God’s revealed order to our good and to His Glory, not because it seems "right to a man." Thus virtue can be ascertained and taught. Critical thinking about non-contextual, virtuous aspects of specific contexts must be a critical part of the curriculum. The intrinsic relevance of Truth is presupposed, and learning is not manipulated to make it relevant, rather its intrinsic relevance is brought from its revealed context into experience by the teacher. The fact that man has a problem gives rise to the incorporation of problem solving techniques as well as individual and corporate responsibility.

Critical self-reflection leads to learning, not indoctrination. It also works in two ways, as non-Christian notions are cast down by biblical arguments and as new understanding enlightens the mind. The biblical process of taking off the old man and putting on the new attain in the life of the mind especially. Christian truth is the caged lion that can defend itself if it is released. Indoctrination, on the other hand, enables an atmosphere that is currently too thin for most students to breathe to become a de-reified air of mutuality and collaborative inquiry. Teaching and learning (and truth) become appropriated as personal and relational, not merely objectified and enacted transactions.

Application of this philosophy of ministry is also required in the reformation of the learning environment- an environment where all students are smart and successful, as the definition of failure and success are redefined in the light of the cross, which is foolishness to the Greek mind. The concept of individuated gifts and fruit lead one to advocate the implementation of a modified Multiple Intelligences-based curriculum (Garner 1983), where students could become more aware of how they learn best. This also seems to this writer to be in keeping with the multileveled approach the Scriptures take toward education and the acquisition of wisdom. Visual stimuli, object lessons, songs, oral presentation, metaphor, and sojourn in circumstances through time and pain form the approaches God uses in time and space to teach his lessons well. The Ml approach is compatible with cooperative grouping, hands on learning, and performance-based assessment. This is only a tool- albeit a powerful one. The more substantial changes must come in how the teacher comes to create a learner based environment. For instance, Cranton has contributed to transformative learning theory by stressing learning styles, cognitive styles, and how different humans construct frames of reference differently (Mezirow and Associates 2000, 181-204).

Learning is not authenticated until the learner understands, retains the learning, applies the learning in a real world context and bears fruit. The teacher must use good questions to deepen understanding. Conversation is key. One does not own knowledge in any given discipline until it can be articulated. Questions should be open ended, exploratory, emotionally and intellectually stimulating and succinct.
Notions of efficiency based on short term products with limited intellectual challenge must be replaced with active, or rather interactive learning. The process of certification is refocused in the process of authorizing curiosity, exploration, and richness of the intellectual life. Our God is a God who sees in us grand potentialities and we must become sharers in that heroic vision. The weight of glory awaits us. God rewards those who seek Him (Heb 11:6).

One final outcome focuses in the area of distinctively Christian measurement and evaluation processes. For the Christian, success must not be rewarded by old game show greed type structures. These kinds of rewards actually choke learning. "Trophies for trivia" is a shortsighted solution. Bribes are distractions that take the attention of the students away from the real rewards of empowerment by learning. Competition must move towards cooperation. These are geared to the emotions of conquest, failure and the quest for goodies; the school must provide a distinct cultural alternative to a culture that is fraught with these symbols of domination and aggression, which are rooted in the fallenness of man.

Current developments in Educational technologies that will inmpact YOU.

Google developing Wikipedia Rival

Army knew of cheating on tests for eight years
- Bryan Bender and Kevin Baron, Boston Globe

Thesis Web Dialogue- Päivi Jokela and Peter Karlsud, EURODL -
This paper describes development work where an application specially adapted for essay-writing and supervision has been constructed, developed and tested.

Collecting, Organizing, and Managing Resources for Teaching Educational Games the Wiki Way - Shelley Henson Johnson, et al; Innovate Online

2-Year Colleges Are Leading the Distance-Education Boom

Another book scanning project (Carnegie- Mellon University) rivals Google’s

Can an online degree cut the mustard? Regardless of delivery system the calibre of the candidate will always manage to shine through

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From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/