Learning & Teaching Theology

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20/12/2016

Post of the Day

Dr Peter Bolt, Academic Director

Welcome to the first post on the Sydney College of Divinity’s new blog: ‘Learning & Teaching Theology’. Since 2017 is the year that the new Higher Education Standards arrive, focusing higher education even more sharply on student learning, it is a fitting year for SCD to continue to stimulate reflection on the theory and practice of theological education, students learning about God.     Learning & Teaching Theology – The Blog Although the name and medium is new, Learning & Teaching Theology is the latest iteration in several previous (print) publications from SCD with the same aim. After a newsletter named Connecting got things off to a brief start in 2009, the following year saw the much more substantial SCD Distance and e-Learning News. For about two and a half years and eighteen issues, this newsletter addressed online learning, and provided both theoretical and practical help for theological educators moving their courses online – at that stage, many for the first time. In 2010, the Teaching and Learning Update appeared, to run for nine issues that year. Its focus on the practice of theological education was then picked up by Transforming Teaching in 2013-2014. The aim of those predecessors and of the new blog, is to promote excellence in theological education through reflecting together from many angles, both theoretical and practical. What is being written about theological education? What is being done in practice? What is the experience of the students and their teachers as they engage together in the community of learners within a theological program? Can we identify best practice? Can we draw on the best research into higher education more generally, anchor it in our particular genre of higher education, and achieve the excellence we are after? If you have something to add to the conversation, let me know! ([email protected])     Wondering about God Together. Research Led- Learning and Teaching in Theological Education On 28-29th April, about 45 people gathered for the third of SCD’s Learning and Teaching Theology conferences, under the title ‘Wondering about God Together’. Theological educators need to continue to grow in their expertise in their field, but in order to help students learn, they also need to develop expertise as theological educators.  With keynote addresses from Professor Andrew Dutney, Flinders University, and Dr Steve Taylor, Principal of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Dunedin, and about thirty other papers from conference delegates, the conference explored research-led learning and teaching in theological education. As with previous conferences, papers from the conference will be published in due course, to benefit others further afield, but those attending already gained much through personal interaction and conversation around the many ideas raised for discussion and further thought. And with three already behind us, the SCD plans to have similar conferences on theological education biannually. The two year gap between conferences should enable some educational experiments to be instigated, perhaps with faculties co-operating to establish projects and gather data before reflecting together on the results, all with the aim of improvement. The conference then provides an apt setting for a paper reporting on the project in the context of fellow educators, for mutual benefit. With Higher Education at large becoming increasingly interested in how to turn out graduates of good character, the next SCD Learning & Teaching Theology Conference (set for 5-6 April 2019), will address the role of Graduate Attributes relating to issues of character. How can the study of God, shape theological students into a new humanity? And as we learn our lessons, are there lessons here for the whole higher education sector?     Teaching Tactics The Wabash Centre’s journal Teaching Theology & Religion regularly features one-page submissions from theological educators called ‘Teaching Tactics’. These are elicited quite simply: ‘Describe a successful classroom teaching tactic that could be replicated by other instructors’. Each such tactic is then shaped by four headings: The context; The Pedagogical Purpose; Description of the strategy; and, Why it is effective. There are always good ideas amongst these one-pagers for those eager to improve their students’ learning experience. Surely every theological educator has stumbled across at least one ‘successful classroom teaching tactic that could be replicated by others’. If you would like to share one, why not write up a page, guided by those four headings, and send it to the SCD Learning & Teaching Theology blog? ([email protected]).

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