November 05, 2007 Week at the SLOAN-C Conference
The good thing about this conference
is that most of the presenters are published researchers in Higher Education
and since it is focused on Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN), it
is tech-savvy for the most part. Not to say there weren't some dogs
Most recent posts by Anthony
Foster on ADULT EDUCATION and LEADERSHIP
Pragmatism versus liberalism in MERRIAM's Selected
Writings on Philosophy and Adult Education
I say versus as that's the way much of the literature is couched.
I know we'll get into progressivism in the near future, but I'll
have to dissent here from the emerging concensus (in our cohort)
that the first seven articles are of the liberal education flavor.
I'd have to say that in general, Dewey would fall into the progressive
camp along with Lindeman and Bergevin...
Bergevin may sound in the article
a bit like a proponent of liberal education, but in fact he made his
mark on vocational education in particular, which would tend to focus
on an area of specialization, not so much on general/liberal education.
He's in the progressive camp, not a liberal (see page 40 comments on
liberal arts versus vocational ed).
Lindeman was a follower of Dewey and the democratization of education
he held forth for really does not square with the focus of liberal education.
As with Dewey, the experience of the learner is key. You can see this
in dichotomies he sets up such as situation versus subject, experience
versus non-situated knowledge.
Anyway, my two cents worth.. It's important from a Christian integrationsist
standpoint to allow that most of these camps will evidence some admixture
of truth and error. What is true about liberal education has tended
to make it endure. What is wrong about it has tended to give rise to
hyperpluralistic approach that ends up wagging the dog. That's what
you get when the autonomy of man becomes the summum bonum of education.
Dewey is a force to be reckoned (and behind him, Hegel) with as the
relativistic perspective has come to be the wallpaper on which most
postmodern educational theories hang.Gangel put it this way in quoting
Martin Dworkin over 40 years ago: "Arguments rage as to Dewey's
ability as a philosopher and his genuine contribution to the philosophy
of education...If we ask however, about the degree to which our lives
are different because of a man's career, Dewey is unquestionably the
As for his influence on the Church, that would be an interesting study
in itself. Hard to distill the man from the philosophies that formed
him and which also formed modernism.
Again, related to your question about the Church, here's an example
to consider. I just recently visited the Creation Museum outside Cincinnati.
The exhibits were preoccupied in co-opting scientific methodologies
to "prove" a young earth perspective. I was left wondering
what part faith plays in the end, if we feel compelled to rely on the
mercurial naturalism that has undermined the faith since the Enlightenment
to provide "proofs" that the Bible is true Truth. I suspect
the whole enterprise would have been foreign to the premodern Church.
Some of the explanations presented in the exhibits required mental gymnastics
and frankly strained credulity in my mind. We must remember we are limited
and fallen and it is not require that all be explained to satisfy our
modernist sensibilities nor to propitiate the god of scientific method.
That sound you hear is Dewey spinning in his grave at that statement.
I do believe in a six day creation by faith. I receive physical evidences
from a groaning creation gladly, and I have other reasons for believeing
this that are rational and logical, but I don't trust relying on a baptized
Empiricism to save the day. So is this one isolated phenomenon I have
described an effect of Dewey? I suspect so, in part, and in the context
of his influence on Modernism in the 20th century.
Don't get me started...does
I am of the opinion that all true learning involves experience whether
the theory behind it emphasizes that or not. Where I see Dewey's most
negative impact is where it correlates to the Enlightment Project' modernist
focus on pluralism and relativism. Dewey is just a piece, though an
important piece of the puzzle that has resulted in the fragmentation
of knowledge that now reigns.
From a Biblical stance, Truth is always more than rationalists would
allow for. The secular educational arena in the 20th century derided
exclusivistic truth claims. In an attempt at democratizing knowledge,
educators struck a Faustian bargain- in moving toward education that
championed social competencies and personal experience they moved away
from the very ideas that built the society in the first place. They
also relegated the role of transcendent spiritual experience to the
relativizing effect of the truthsredding preoccupation with naturalism.
Here's my theory, for what it is worth. Educational philosophies have
a life cycle. They are usually born in reaction to excesses in the prevailing
philosophy of the day, they gain ground because they do seek to address
real problems. Then those who are the pioneers of the philosophy move
off the scene or form now strains in reaction to the philosophy's own
shortcomings which also mitigates the places where it was having a positive
Then the philosophy become so dissipated by pluralistice views on how
it should play out that this entropy gives rise to a new reactionary
approach. These cycles do not allow for the old guard to totally pass
away- but the good effects tend to be mitigated by change and the negative
effects seem to persist. Upon scrutiny, the philosophies we are looking
at seem to follow this pattern until we have the present state of affairs
which I would characterize as a cacophony of plural philosophies.What
makes them better or worse is their relationship to the nature of knowledge
as the Scriptures reveal it.
||The present milieu, in my view, is a pastiche
of pluralistic Frankenphilosophies cobbled together out of the debris
of the Twentieth century. Secular humanisism is evident along with
remnants of liberal, behavioristic, progressive education held tentatively
together by relativism. Not a hopeful prognosis.
Two different animals
I think seminaries exist to provide a differenct kind of specialized
education that builds on experience and prior knowledge, then put it
into practice personally and by equipping others as well... Christian
colleges and universities have a different, broader curriculum that
builds people who can deal with ideas and well as hopefully, put them
into practical use with excellence. Thus a core curriculum and then
a Christian emphasis on a major won't be going away soon. There'll be
lots of debate on what defines such a curriculum,
Anthony Foster - Nov 5, 2007 7:45 pm Both /And
I was the beneficiary of a liberal arts education in secondary school
that emphasized incredibly interesting electives in language arts,
fine arts, philosophy, creative writing, foreign language, as well
as the core curriculum. At University a degree in Fine Arts continued
that education. This prepared me to teach or to become a professional
artist, and I happily did both. Most of my contemporaries saw me
as a dreamer, and they were probably right. But it was the liberal
artseducation that God used to help me to pursue the Good, the True,
and the Beautiful.
After working at SMU for five
years, I became fascinated with courses available only at the local
community colleges. As a result I came to see the incredible value of
this approach to education, and I became a champion of that approach.
I see the Liberal Arts as an incredibly enriching foundation for going
deep in some area of life that is both interesting and rewarding. I
wouldn't trade my Fine Arts degree for anything. It lives with me every
day. And I see my vocationl emphasis of my Master's degree as an enabling
agent. My Seminary education has been sort of a bridge between the two.
That being said, different strokes for different folks. I frankly think
the Church should be about reclaiming its position at the center of
purveyance of the creative and liberal arts as a form of edification,
instruction and worship life of the believer. Critical thinking should
be at the forefront of the curriculum. The believer should not have
to turn to the academy in order to learn the ability to deconstruct
DISCUSSIONS - 10:44pm Nov 8, 2007 EST - I have electronic versions
of docs from some of the sessions here at the Sloan-C conference if
anyone is interested in any of it or if it pertains to your area of
research(that's a bit redundant I s'pose.) Should get a few more sessions
in tomorrow before I have to leave.
A Case Study of the Relationship Between Socio-Epistemological Teaching
Orientations and Instructor Perceptions of Pedagogy in Online Environments
Using Wiki technology to support a community for learning Doolan
Content Analysis in Computer-Mediated Communication-Vasa Buraphadeja
Rubric for online instruction-Cillay
Are You Representin? Instructor Identity in Online Courses
Learning Effectiveness Online: What Research Tells Us
Testing An Experimental Universally Designed Learning Unit in a Graduate
Level Online Teacher Education Course
Strategies for effective student interaction in online courses- Kolloff
Student Role Adjustment In Online Communities Of Inquiry: Model And
Instrument Validation-D. Randy Garrison
Exemplary Online Educators: Creating a Community of Inquiry
Online Community Of Inquiry Review:
Social, Cognitive, And Teaching Presence Issues
You can contact me if you'd like an e-copy of any of this.
The Gift of Administration
Discerning giftedness takes
time and observation with spiritual eyes to see that fruit mature. too
many churches opt for administering a spiritual gifts inventory or Jungian
indicator, or worse yet, just asking the church memeber what they think
their gift is. Even passion for an area of ministry is not proof of
a gift in that area.
I like to think of the discernment methodology above as the magic bean
method.You know , the one where you have a handful of beans and are
told that one is supernaturally empowered. You can irradiate and analyze
the beans, or plant and water them to see which one gives supernatural
increase. Works nearly every time, if you have the patience.
DISCUSSIONS - 07:07pm Nov 8, 2007 EST -Marriam book continued
Behaviorism is rooted in psychology and the
study of behavior. Its foundational writings were by John Watson in
the 1920s and expecially informed by the work of Skinner (essay
8), Thorndike, and R. W. Tyler in his linear Instructional Design model.
As an educational philosophy it has lost much of its sway since the
work of cognitive science has matured, especially the articulation of
internal information processing models of learning. It does not address
the role of internal cognitive based motivation in learning and advances
the idea that behavior can be fully explained functionally, which is
Banduras Social Cognition finds its roots in behaviorism, but
when it was found to be too simplistic to satisfactorily account for
his observations he moved beyond it. While Rogers studied behavior he
would be classified as a humanist. In practical application, I would
say we see a strains of behaviorism in the HRD model of the Nadlers
Behaviorism characterized the human as a stimulus-response entity, and
the stimulus is external and measureable in nature. Some of the tenets
of the educational paradigm are that the learner takes an active role
in learning based on interactions with the environment. The teacher
becomes a manger and controller of the behavioral changes by designing
the learning environment to elicit preferred behaviors.
Behaviorism will persist as it still has application in some areas of
learning. The philosophy sees its most successful application in skills
training and competency based mastery learning of systematic bodies
of knowledge. It formed the basis of computer assisted instruction and
the creation of the teaching machine concept (teaching machines were
used extensively, in concept, by the military.) Drill and practice and
programmmed learning are a preferred methodology.
Musings on Administration in an Organization- Accountability and
If the heart is as deceitful as Jeremiah told us, then we'll have a
difficult time making any kind of measures of our own transformation.
Yes the Holy Spirit can and does reveal this to us through convicting
us, but I would propose that the way He most often does this is through
accountability relationships- someone we trust. If we have the ears
to hear the truth spoken in love it can help us reckon that reality
and give us the checkpoint we need- whether in the form of encouragement
or exhortation or reproof.
Continued from Last week's
blog... - Administration of a Christian Distinction
From Rob: Consulting the Word
of God "transparently" and "overtly" is a minimum
standard mandate for all us. My curiosity is piqued Anthony about how
you do that in your particular leadership area. In other words, how
do you contextualize this transparency in your environment and what
results have you seen?
Answer: You ask good questions. The challenge is to answer this without
going overboard. Each point could be examined as a teachable moment
of itself, and the spiritual and the temporal blur in the context.
I was singing a chorus the other day:
Everything I am, everything I have,
Everything I can, I bring to You.
For You alone are worthy, so I come to give You praise,
And everything I am I bring to You.
Philippians 2:12-16 came to mind: 12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have
always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God
which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14Do
all things without murmurings and disputings: 15That ye may be blameless
and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked
and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;16Holding
forth the word of life;
The answer to this will ultimately provide the answer to the question.
Do I really , really believe and live this? That is my charge in this
vocational calling I have found myself in , and it is not an easy road.
I preach- no separation in the sacred and secular. No dichotomy in spiritual
reality. No covert light. No bland salt. The result has been transformative
for my life and it is transforming the environment God put me in. the
tension lies in contextuality as in some arenas the language and the
prior knowledge flavors the conversation.
Heres what it looks like: First and foremost, each day before
I start work I pray for ever one I will encounter during the day. I
pray like my life depends on it, because it does. Then I dress for spiritual
battle as I reckon the reality of the principalities that will be laid
waste before the effectual fervent prayers I have just prayed. Lay aside
idealism- this is a battle we are in. I earnestly desire to see each
one of my team succeed in their endeavors and to see them work together
selflessly. I am called to love them. This is tilling the soil in real
terms. I pray for Spiritual awakening and my wisdom to be as shrewd
as a serpent and gentle as a dove as I trust God to insure my integrity.
Modeling: First by Grace,I model self-control and patience and gentleness
and peace, no matter what the circumstance. Secondly murmurings and
disputings are verboten, and I model this directly. We do not deny realities,
but neither do we murmur about them. My prayer is to model supernatural
dependence on God. As a result of great Grace, I have accomplished what
was said to be impossible (and that others failed miserably at) over
the past two years and won a place of great influence in the lives of
quite a few pagans and not a few believers in the workplace. I regularly
remind my team that what they have seen accomplished has been by blood,
sweat and Grace.
By transparency, I mean in context it has to be like the air the team
breathes. It is ubiquitous. It is found in an atmosphere of affirmation
of the imago Dei in the everyone who work for me - non believers as
well as the believers who are more and more constituting the team. It
is overtly worked out in celebrating the small victories while orienting
the day to day work towards a mastery of the details we are responsible
for, rehearsing their importance as a team. We talk about our purpose
in life. I emphasize intercession for one another and a spirit of serving
one another while we focus on the big picture of creating a body of
work that will enhance lives and meet human needs. I champion the worker
and attempt to maximize the rewards that are due to well done work.
This cannot be done outside an atmosphere of team stewardship and servanthood.
We recognize the reality that working in todays milieu is as hard
as ploughing the soil was for Adam. We stay deeply in touch with the
realities of each others lives as we try to fee our families and be
good providers. As a leader, I quote the ideas of scripture in response
to problems. I do not condemn and I do not compromise. I have stood
in the gap for my people in a variety of vocational settings over the
years and interceded at times with a capricious management situation.
I have chosen my battles wisely. I have been willing to take the hit
for my team. Love has to be expressed
Christian is as Christian does
||Question: "On page 45 (Management
Essentials for Christian Ministry by Estep and Anthony) the
author states that Christians will perform the activities associated
with administration somewhat differently. Please articulate how
Christians would influence the way administration is conducted in
the context of ministry."
Answer: As I have stated before,
I see all of life as ministry unto God and man. In that context, Christian
Leadership is something that should happen anywhere a Christian is in
a leadershsip role, stewarding the authority invested in him by God.
During my sojourn in Memphis and Dallas I was permeated by a philosophy
of leadership, management, and administration that that was a coalescing
of the thought of my teachers:Duane Litfin, Howard Hendricks, Howard
Clark, Gary Inrig, and especially Bill Lawrence of the Center for Christian
Leadership at Dallas Seminary I have been influenced in a way where
I cannot really say where their thought ends and mine begins in this
arena, so Ill just pass along the credit.
The premise in view here is that Christian leadership is leadership
that is Christian in distinctive ways. Lawrence taught that Christian
leadership is distinctive in regard to its position, character requirements,
source, enablement, ambition, motivation, and authority. I hold that
this applies to Christian administration and management as well as leadership.
While many writers hold that there are essential differences in leadership
and management, one thing is certain- they cannot be distinctively Christian
if they do not hold to Christian values. Leadership, management, and
administration all rise or fall according to how well these distinctives
are evidenced in shoe leather.
1. Christian leadership is distinctive as to its hierarchy, as the Christian
leader will never be preeminent, but is ever in submission to Christ.
This submission is the key to true power. He must have a clear understanding
of the Masters purposes. 2. Gods truth, love, and righteousness
will be reflected in his character, behavior and relationships. In fact
these character requirements are distinctive as well. 1 Timothy 3:1-7
denies leadership to anyone who does not exhibit Christian character.
Authority grows in the soil of authentic character. 3. The source of
Christian leadership is the Holy Spirit. Leadership and administration
is a supernatural gift. 4. So then it follows that the enablement of
the Christian leader is empowered by the Holy Spirit as well. This enables
the overpowering of the flesh and spiritual discernment. 5. Ambition
becomes a consecrated calling, and energies are put to the end of glorifying
God. 6. Love and concern for others is the mark of Christian leadership.7.
In the matter of Authority, many misunderstand the role of the servant
leader. The Christian leader is a servant leader.
To elucidate, heres a passage from an article Lawrence wrote some
twenty years ago. "A key passage in helping resolve this tension
is 2 Corinthians 4:5: "For we do not preach ourselves but Christ
Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants [douloi] for Jesus
sake." The servant leader is enslaved to those whom he serves,
but not to do their will; he is enslaved to them for Jesus sake,
that is, out of concern for Christs interests. Thus he serves
others not to do for them what they want but to do for them what Christ
wants; the servant leader serves others out of an interest in seeing
Christs purposes accomplished in their lives." [Bibliotheca
Sacra 144:575 (Jul 87) p. 328]
And what are Christs interests in the lives of others? No room
to continue here. Maybe later...
Here's a quote from Bill Lawrence,
whom I was taught by at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas... the list
is not exhaustive, but it is informative:
" The servant leader serves others out of an interest in seeing
Christs purposes accomplished in their lives.. And what are Christs
interests in the lives of others?
Consider the list below:
1. Christ is interested in Gods glory (John 17:4).
2. Christ is interested in proper worship (Matt 21:1217; John
3. Christ is interested in discipling (Matt 28:1620; Mark 1:1617;
4. Christ is interested in the Great Commission (Matt 28:1620;
Mark 16:1415; Luke 24:4449; John 20:1923; Acts 1:8).
5. Christ is interested in restoring sinning saints (Matt 18:1516).
6. Christ is interested in confronting sin (Matt 18:1520).
7. Christ is interested in disciplining rebellious saints to maintain
the purity of the church (Matt 18:1520).
8. Christ is interested in correcting competitive leadership (Mark 10:4345).
9. Christ is interested in stable marriages (Matt 5:3132; 19:312).
10. Christ is interested in having authoritative leadership (Matt 18:1820;
28:20; Mark 6:7; John 20:2123).
From this list of Christs interests in the lives of His followers
it is clear that servant leaders must have and exercise authority if
they are to provide true leadership. The difference between secular
leadership and Christian leadership does not lie in the absence of authority
but in the attitude that motivates authority, the sanctified nature
of ambition and motivation, and the holy character mentioned earlier."
[Bill Lawrence, Bibliotheca Sacra 144:575 (Jul 87) p. 328]