January 7, 2008 - A Christian Philosophy of Adult
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 Gods 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
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 Gods
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 Gods
truth, so information must be filtered through the sieve of Biblical
The curriculum must be deemed to be applicable because of its practicality,
but practicality is redefined as that which works in Gods 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.
developing Wikipedia Rival
Army knew of cheating on tests for eight years - Bryan Bender and
Kevin Baron, Boston Globe
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
Organizing, and Managing Resources for Teaching Educational Games the
Wiki Way - Shelley Henson Johnson, et al; Innovate Online
Colleges Are Leading the Distance-Education Boom
book scanning project (Carnegie- Mellon University) rivals Googles
an online degree cut the mustard? Regardless of delivery system
the calibre of the candidate will always manage to shine through