November 05, 2007 Week at the SLOAN-C Conference in Orlando.

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 barking.

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's Influence

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 most important."

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 Dewey persist?

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 effect.

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 the culture.

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 1920’s 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 untenable.

Bandura’s 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 (essay 9).

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 Amen

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.

Here’s 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 today’s 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 I’ll 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 Master’s purposes. 2. God’s 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, here’s 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 Christ’s 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 Christ’s purposes accomplished in their lives." [Bibliotheca Sacra 144:575 (Jul 87) p. 328]

And what are Christ’s 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 Christ’s purposes accomplished in their lives.. And what are Christ’s interests in the lives of others?

Consider the list below:
1. Christ is interested in God’s glory (John 17:4).
2. Christ is interested in proper worship (Matt 21:12–17; John 2:13–22; 4:24).
3. Christ is interested in discipling (Matt 28:16–20; Mark 1:16–17; John 17:6).
4. Christ is interested in the Great Commission (Matt 28:16–20; Mark 16:14–15; Luke 24:44–49; John 20:19–23; Acts 1:8).
5. Christ is interested in restoring sinning saints (Matt 18:15–16).
6. Christ is interested in confronting sin (Matt 18:15–20).
7. Christ is interested in disciplining rebellious saints to maintain the purity of the church (Matt 18:15–20).
8. Christ is interested in correcting competitive leadership (Mark 10:43–45).
9. Christ is interested in stable marriages (Matt 5:31–32; 19:3–12).
10. Christ is interested in having authoritative leadership (Matt 18:18–20; 28:20; Mark 6:7; John 20:21–23).

From this list of Christ’s 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]

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