Monday, January 16, 2012

It's the final countdown!

Notice: This post related to the above in name only
After coming back from Ethiopia last summer, high on my first major teaching experience, I began my penultimate semester at Eastern Mennonite University in a funk. Having just been a teacher, here I was again in the classroom...but as a student. It took me a few weeks to process what was going on with my bad attitude and moping around, but once I figured it out, I quickly began working to address the problem.

After some conversations last fall with seminary faculty and administrators, combined with a coincidental adjunct teaching position opening up at a nearby college, I arranged my final semester at EMU to consist of just one class, with the rest of my hours taken up by a teaching practicum. So for one semester only, I will be Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bridgewater College in nearby Bridgewater, Virginia, teaching "Intro to Conflict Transformation" to college undergrad students.

My class doesn't start for another two weeks, so I'm in the process of finalizing the curriculum and syllabus. As it relates to my practicum, though, I'm approaching it with the following goals:
  1. Discern the call to educational ministry by the practice of teaching
  2. Explore pedagogical approaches engaging various learning styles with mixed delivery/media
  3. Reflect critically on secularity in Christian institutions of higher education, explore alternatives
This is basically a practicum to help me continue to test my developing sense that teaching may be a growing part of my ministerial calling, but I'm also using it to advance my study of secularity as it relates to any number of this case Christian higher education. In addition to the texts I've assigned for the course at Bridgewater, I've assembled my own reading list to provide substantive practical and philosophical input into the practicum. In the following order, I'll be reading...
  1. Smith, David A. and James K.A. Smith. Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2011.
  2. Smith, James K.A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Vol. 1, Cultural Liturgies. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Academic, 2009.
  3. Fish, Stanley Eugene. The Trouble with Principle. 1st Harvard University Press pbk. ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001.
  4. MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. 2nd ed. Notre Dame, In.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984.
I'm already about half-way through the first book on teaching, and it's been very helpful on a number of levels. First of all, it summarizes MacIntyrian virtue theory in an amazingly simple, efficient manner. Next, it's a book full of great case studies, with chapters submitted by college professors who actually tried to reimagine how they teach in light of virtue theory and Christian practices, and then wrote about their findings. I already have ideas for my teaching gig. Great stuff.

In the coming months I'll likely be talking more about these things - teaching, secularity, and virtue theory - since the list above will inform much of what I'm chewing in, intellectually, until I graduate.

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