Historical Dialogue

A Teaching Tactic from Dr Scott Stargel, Nazarene Theological College (NTC), which helps students to understand the positions and motivations of leaders.


A postgraduate course for Nazarene Theological College: Personal Growth for Leaders (P9667)

Pedagogical purpose
  • To encourage the students to research primary sources in order to understand the positions and motivations of individuals who were known for their impact on the field of spiritual formation
  • To allow the class to investigate together how these persons might address contemporary issues

Students choose, with the instructor’s approval, an historical person to research with a particular focus in mind (in our case, the triangulation of spiritual formation, leadership, and emotional health). The students present approximately 10 questions to the instructor who will then “interview” the historical person in class. The other class members and the instructors then ask follow-up questions, focusing on how the chosen person might address current questions, situations, concepts, or issues that they may have not faced during their lifetimes.

The students will respond based on their understanding of how the chosen person would respond, representing his or her ideas rather than their own. The professor encourages cross-talk between persons, to explore possibly unseen connections

Why is it effective?
  • It allows for an assessment of reading that does not focus on essay writing skills.
  • It requires sympathetic analysis of a person’s thoughts and life before attempting critical analysis.
  • It allows graduate students the chance to instruct others.
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