Tuesday, December 29, 2009

THE VOYAGE - A 200 Year-old Puritan Prayer

A 200 Year-old Puritan Prayer that could change your outlook on 2010.

My little bark sails on a restless sea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely;
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course;
Let me to harbour with flying pennants, hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.

I ask great things, expect great things, shall receive great things.
I venture on Thee wholly, fully, my wind, sunshine, anchor, defence.
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless, but my helm is held steady,
Thy Word secures safe passage, thy grace wafts me onward, my haven is guaranteed.
This day will bring me nearer home, Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
my peace flowing as a running tide, my righteousness as every chasing wave.

Help me to live circumspectly, with skill to convert every care into prayer,
Halo my path with gentleness and love, smooth every asperity of temper;
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief;
may I strive to bind up every wound, and pour oil on all troubled waters.

May the world this day be the Saviour's cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain in His side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

(The Valley of Vision, Puritan Prayers and Devotions, p. 202-03)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reflections on the Processes of Adult Educational ‘Navigation.’

Reflections on the Processes[1] of Adult Educational ‘Navigation.’

Dr. Marc S. Blackwell, Sr

(Note: Both the Bibliography and the Footnotes are found at the end of this blog - article.)

Introduction: To the student, apprentice, intern or just those interested in maintaining adult life-learning, the following thoughts are provided to stimulate thought, create interest and hopefully expand one’s own thoughts about the processes that are invaluable to you as you navigate your own life-long strategy of education.

This paper was written to provide my students with some insight into my own current thinking, the historic developments and policies of our Institute. I also want to provide my students with an introductory basis for discussing and understanding the on-going application of the pedagogic processes of Adult Learning at a “cutting edge” level. Educational transformation is underway worldwide and we are happily in the vanguard of this exciting transformation[2]. The Cape Church Ministries Institute (CMI) is taking its rightful place as a Christian educational body by following the historical pattern established by Christian educational bodies down through the history of education. Our approach to education was formed by an ‘evolutionary sort’ of process. This transformation or evolutionary styled process has been taking place within our English speaking Institute (and the Afrikaans speaking Kweekskool) for over thirty years.[3] The revision of our policies is an on-going procedural reality of any project that wants to remain relevant and dynamic. This paper seeks to provide the setting for discussion and better understanding of these developments and hopefully these thoughts will succeed in bringing the student “up to date” with our current directions.

Looking back that we might look forward: From 1974, I was facing a rather ‘interesting’ set of problems. I had accepted the mission to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Rhodesia[4] with some truly complicated tasks before me. I was required to “plant” or establish new multi-cultural congregations and to hand these congregations over to “national” - Rhodesian leadership. However, no educational institution, other than one rural traditional-styled[5] Bible Training College[6], was available. This existing traditional college was most useful, filling a real (though limited) need among many rural Evangelical churches and ministries.

The problem of those early days was obvious, my mission was urban (or rather more ‘sub-urban’) and not at all rural in nature. As a vocational training centre for young Shona speaking potential pastors and Christian workers, the existing Bible College styled schooling was fine for the purpose it was designed to fulfill; but if I wanted to provide a lasting solution for the independent churches I was representing, a higher level of education was needed. If our philosophy of ministry was correct in requiring the creation of indigenous and autonomous leadership at or above our own level of competency, I would need to be creative. In the light of our cultural situation with increasing numbers of our youth fully educated in English, an English focus was called for while cooperating with the existing Shona language efforts, as well. The “need” before us was to become the key to our future development. This “need” can be summarized by stating it in the form of a goal: to unlock and open the mental doors of young students (and existing pastors) through pedagogically sound Adult Education[7].

With the help of the library of the University of Rhodesia, good advisors and the random input from a varied stream of source material on pedagogy I began forming a picture of what was possible. The “institute” that I was imagining should be available through the facilitation of a local church and their own leaders who already held post graduate degrees. Another possible approach was envisaged by encouraging a cooperative grouping of a few of the smaller local congregations within one geographic region. The education that we had in mind would include basic hermeneutics and Biblical principles of hermeneutics at the very root of all the courses offered.

Both general philosophy[8] and systematic theology, along with Old Testament and New Testament teaching would receive attention. The history of the development of Dogma - rather than simple “Church History” would be given attention, Christian counselling theory, ethics and practical pastoral-congregational care would be included, as well. Other subjects could and would be added or removed as practically required. The programme would take five years to complete on the undergraduate level and would include other studies through our State University[9] correspondence courses.

This major step[10] was considered by some as a ‘daring step’ and was viewed by others as a form of “academic suicide” was an essential step in arriving at a meaningful solution to my ‘problem.’ This step was the decision to move-toward or continuously work at the development of a contextually sound non-formal[11] teaching method. This, in fact, would become the “heart” of all of our pedagogical processes.

Procedurally: the student using this educational method would be provided syllabi that would define the goal(s) of the course a statement of the greater purposes and some of the potential outcomes. A study guide would provide reading guidelines; a listing of both required and additional recommended reading would also be outlined. The course would be planned around Socratic discussion sessions lasting 10 weeks (one term) for introductory modules and an additional 10 weeks for further in-depth study. The student would be provided weekly “preparatory questions” to motivate each “class session.[12]” At he beginning, the questions numbered between five and fifteen questions and the students were to answer these from their own study and research before attending the class sessions.

“Class time[13]” was, in fact, an informal[14] discussion. The hour (or so) began by the ‘facilitator[15],’ – as then referred to, “speaking to the issue at hand” - this would last for ten to fifteen minutes and was designed to generate interest by forming the discussion around the uncertainties and the uniqueness of the subject. The student was expected to have developed (at home or library) his or her own understanding of the subject matter under discussion. The tutor would use a few Socratic styled questions to encourage the students’ involvement and interaction and “answers” often developed through conversation and debate. Each term included some “lecture styled” seminars to supplement or provide any specialised or contextualised content required by the course material.

Our recognition of the need for leaders who would not feel dependent on ongoing external influences and / or the financial power or international personality of foreigners was behind some of the thinking of this new effort. We believed there was a real need to educate ‘genuine leaders’ who would be competent and capable of handling the challenges of change. We understood that the life and longevity of these religious and charitable churches, schools, camps, etc depended on the autonomous and independent nature of these Christian ministries being maintained from within the culture rather than from overseas influence. Leaders must be able to act independently with good judgment and this meant there was a need for more than just a vocational styled training paradigm.[16]

Navigation, in the terms of the sea, is the systemic and accurate use of accurate charts, time-keeping and sun or star sightings! These fundamentals, together with the use of horizon observations (to establish longitude or east-west orientation) were vital in early sailing! Other basics of navigation included one's understanding of wind patterns, the use of 'sand-glasses' and the 'sounding-lead' and (by the 18th Century) the sextant. Together, all of these ‘tools of the trade’ found a unity and formed the essentials of navigation. Navigation, then was a ‘skill set’ an acquired but never static ability. Our desire was to find this type of unity between the accurate use of the Truth, and attention to the changing cultural and spiritual context within our subject, while sound logic must also be allowed to rest on a scientific hermeneutic rather than on a feeling, whim or utilitarian goal.

Navigation? Yes, navigation! Navigation as a set of processes: (i.) of interpretative depth, (ii.) of the art of functioning with sensitivity and (iii.) of cognitive (self) empowerment is quite similar to Socratic - Tutorial styled education. The Socratic - Tutorial form of education cannot function openly unless the students hold an appreciation for and a sense of the navigational process itself. The earliest efforts at the circumnavigation of the world may seem to the casual observer to have been just a matter of chance or some sort of ‘blind luck’ but this was never the case - even when ‘luck’ provided some additional or even amazing benefits.

So too, the notion that academic learning as the discovery of truth and the acquiring of genuine education may come without studied design and serious organisation is truly flawed. It is the balance of this design and organisation conducted within an open educational spirit that makes this type of education unique and of great value. The personal, one-on-one or small group, environment allows focus on teaching men and women to think for themselves.

Navigating Education’s “life-seas:’ Neither chance encounters, nor random experiences[17], can produce the abilities and vital ‘skill-sets’ needed to become and remain an educated person. Sound education as a process is far from either an opportunistic or an idealistic process of discovery. Education for leadership should be “flexible and dynamic,” but any useful education still requires the development and on-going commitment to specific ‘scientific’ or logic based methods and processes.

Education[18] (especially adult education), includes the idea of “training” but not in the limited sense of today’s ‘technical training’ or with “career success” orientation with its more Western mindset committed to functionality.[19] Education rather speaks of the intellect being disciplined or matured “for its own sake.”[20] It is a process designed to create or cultivate the (Christian?) gentleman, who becomes a “candid, equitable, dispassionate mind, with a noble and courteous bearing on the conduct of life - these are the “connatural” qualities of a larger knowledge base; they are the objects of a University.”[21]

In our modern frenzied world, where we all are far too often to be found ‘running to and fro,’ there is a need for genuine time management strategies as a central commitment to our ‘life’s skills-sets!’ The student needs both a life and study management plan - a unified ‘life & study schedule’ or routine[22] that includes time for the tutorial session, traditional classes, library and more relaxed times to read, time to carry-out genuine research, time to contemplate morally, academically and otherwise.

Life requires a balanced spirit toward taking time to interact socially, time for leisure - that has a ‘rejuvenating’ quality, and time for service to others. Just as marriage requires time for couples to interact with each other, time for coordinating activities and even time for sharing dreams - so to a balanced education needs to be shared within the fellowship of marriage as well as in the work world. For this reason, we encourage our students to work together with their spouses in reading, discussions and preparation before class. “Personal time” for journaling or writing memoirs, time for contemplating and analyzing issues under consideration and time to discuss your thoughts with another person are vital for sound education. Scheduling “personal time” is not an optional aspect of good self-motivated and mature education.

Navigating Change: Human growth (as spiritual and intellectual change) along with emotional balance speak of the ‘maturing’ of the soul. Returning to the metaphors of navigation: one needs to identify the processes of adult education and follow them with a spirit of endurance. Change is a painful process, at best. Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, held a solid understanding of this issue. Call it ‘discipleship’ or rather an on-going form of Adult Learning but no matter what one calls this process it is clearly linked to the input or edification[23] of another person and usually to a number of others - as a process of daily renewal. Change, for Paul, was the two-factored process of: “putting off “ and “putting on.” The sound student or disciple was one who recognized (i.) the goal and then also understood (ii.) the necessary steps to take while (iii.) remaining mentally prepared to brave the unknown results.

In Summary: Navigation has always required accuracy in relationship to universal resources and terms of reference but all of this was to be used in the context of one ‘unnerving’ constant - dealing with the unknown. The fundamentals included accurate charts, time-keeping, observation along with a knowledge of, or thorough acquaintance with, the skills for analyzing weather, the heavens and the capabilities or seaworthiness of the ship itself. Education, rightly understood, has its similarities. Adult Higher Education requires more than a calling (commission); a cargo (content); or even a crew (advocacy), rather learning is best affected when it is continuous, critical and collaborative. Such an outlook regarding the adult’s learning processes is best understood as those methods that encourage inductive inquiry, that remain tentative (or humble), that understand the practical planning processes within the limits or tensions of critical testing and modeling.

Education and truth: Truth to the ‘modernist’ was most generally a matter of insecure inquiry, but for the current century’s ‘post-modernists’ it is more the unattainable and/or the unlikely – if not just (from their perspective) impossible to discover. This is considered acceptable in the study of philosophy but the reality of life calls for listening, comprehending, testing, and improving logically so that one may really know, actually plan and finally execute.

Our concept of education calls for life-long learners but by that we do imply that we are to remain eternally tentative, failing to find resolution and then never achieving any genuine or useful goals. Affirmation, like appreciation, though truly valuable spiritual and psychological attitudes cannot replace truth itself. (Proverbs 18:13,15) In our understanding of Biblically based Christian thought, truth is understood as abiding in the nature and character of God Himself.

Our academic efforts to discover the truth depends on our willingness to learn from Christ (Matthew 11:25-30) and to ultimately “know God” – as He has revealed[24] Himself! Such a possibility in religion calls upon faith, but not a “blind leap of faith,” rather a faith anchored on a fast and sure rock or foundation. Of course, those who choose to remain ‘agnostic’ or whatever else – choose to do so, but this does not change what Christ and His Apostles have revealed. For those who are willing to take cognizance of the Bible – as the self-revelation of God - as the discernible communications of the eternal God - the Bible is truly ‘Holy,’ or might we say truly true.

To commit to the study of truth on any level and certainly Biblical-based truth and thought, there is a requirement – it is to exercise some (be it seemingly only a little) degree of faith in the actions or activities of Him who has caused and Who yet sustains all that is! Learning may be tentative and may well require testing and comprehension in the ultimate sense; but it must also be capable of arriving at an accurate result. This result is the basis for genuine spiritual and emotional ‘change.’ Moral change as a spiritual outcome (or result) stands alone in its ability to lead to genuinely ‘useful’ action, life-changing participation and/or creative innovation that is timeless.

Behavioural Maturity: Behaviour is a matter of personal discovery[25] and commitment to truth. Behaviour requires personal concern for its application – beyond the merely theoretical – to one-another. This concern (or love) is something far beyond mere compliance or appeasement. Spiritual integration – i.e., the processes of change depend upon control, kindness and patience if not numerous others qualities placed into actions.

In the Bible, the Spirit of God offers a fruit or result for those who are willing to look to God rather than attempting moral or behavioural change[26] through the lone involvement of one’s own capabilities. Grace is the term used to describe God’s kind involvement or His ‘coming along side’ of those who seek Him. Mercy, in many cases, describes God’s care for those who fail to seek Him. God’s love is impartial. These terms are more a matter more familiar to the theological world than the pedagogical world, at least in our current times, but they are no less valuable to our discussion – even today.

“Students as Participators:” To join the ranks of those called students is to be engaged, involved, and active in participation with something that truly is a matter of moral action! A student is more than one who “inhales” facts and figures, or is just being a listener, or worse - trying to be a (so-called) non-participative learner. Students must be aware and increasingly more fully aware of the consequences of their actions - their participation. When we ‘participate,’ we enter the world of moral responsibility and we are becoming more responsible to ourselves as well as to others. This participation has another rather misunderstood or possibly just overlooked dimension; we need to remember that this participative-learning is never just on the horizontal level.

We hope to encourage our students to participate as learners and to experience how this will eventually guide them deeper into the vertical dimension of the source of reality and truth found in the eternal, all-wise God. Known or unknown (unbeknownst) to many a learner today is the involvement of God as the sustainer[27] of the universe – its constants and / or laws. These so-called universals are available as truth bridges to widen our perceptions and thus to open our understanding of God. One may not fully recognize truth or ‘universals’ as God’s realm, but it remains that our participation in learning is meant to bring us to a place of personal and moral responsibility to the glory of God; or, in other words, to bring us to a place of cognizance in respect of His perfection and His righteousness versus our own limitations and unrighteousness.

Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist, provided a most useful series of definitions regarding Adult Participatory Learning by dividing learning into three groups: affective (attitudes), psychomotor (precision and action) and cognitive (intellectual skills). His famed Bloom’s Taxonomy focused on six cognitive levels: 1. Knowledge, 2. Comprehension, 3. Application, 4. Analysis, 5. Synthesis and 6. Evaluation. Both the student and the teacher, tutor, or facilitator should collaborate around these issues rather than expecting sheer exposure to, or memorization of, fact and content to accomplish learning. Note: Our Tutors are encouraged to use these six cognitive levels (together with the more detailed listing of utilizations) as guidelines for our facilitation of Socratic questions.

Our Cape Town approaches to education: The Method of Non-formal Education that we have used in our Cape Church Ministries Institute (Afrikaans: Onafhanklike Baptiste Kweekskool) was designed to foster critical thinking and provide an introduction and orientation to our adult learners to their own need for open-ended education. A majority of our students are already well acquainted with the Christian faith, the Bible and their own church’s primary distinctives. We recognise the need to improve on our student’s understanding of these obviously important distinctive issues of polity and practice, but our focus has not been on any specific content but on the student’s individual growth in personal capability to assess these matters of concern. The student needs the competency to evaluate (for themselves) the validity or short-comings inherent in the logical interpretation of their faith. Sufficient to say: we were not interested in the mere transference of doctrine or dogma but rather have sought to develop skills in collaborative learning.[28]

We have sought to accomplish these goals by promoting a guided inductive study style that I have assigned the nomenclature: ‘Navigation.’ Since our focus was not in the delivery or distribution of large amounts of content or information, we have had the time to focus on guiding the student to recognize how to come to his or her “own conclusions.” Logic as a key to navigation is a most delicate process but (we believe) it remains a fundamental for genuinely testing evidence. This is one of the primary reasons our methods have not followed the traditional college approach of lectures, note taking and rote[29] learning, or even the use of ‘traditional’ examination[30] styles accepted in most traditional college or university settings.

The primary methods we have used have included some Traditional[31] Classroom Lectures, Modular Seminars (often with ‘Workshops’) and of course the use of Socratic[32] Group Discussion. Maintaining the balance, or focus of one of these methods (i.e. Socratic) over the others has been somewhat erratic[33] but the focus has most often been on the use of the Socratic Method, at least whenever this was possible. This guided inductive study style has worked well in most cases and has clearly worked best in groupings of three to six students.

There is a difference between the Socratic Group Discussion and the Tutorial though they do interrelate around the concept of Navigation[34]. In the Church Ministries Institute (or OBK) we have provided the more individual “tutoring” by augmenting the small group with individual mentorship. In our undergraduate level this more informal interaction or mentorship most often occurred by way of a series of “apprenticeship” projects or assignments. Honours courses have included the Socratic method and were usually limited to three students. Regretfully, the Honours programme has often fallen short of the level of individual attention we had hoped to provide. This paper and the related procedural changes herein recommended seek to address this short coming. In our rather new post-graduate (Masters level) programme, individual discussions have been the order of the day, though this level of post-graduate work is focused far more on developing ‘research writing skills’ than research for the sake of research alone. Then, of course, our two year Internships offer the best or highest levels of individual attention or mentorship. This mentorship (in specific ministry situations) offers especially consistent attention and is more ‘role’ oriented. The need for facing the most basic question of leadership development is still a matter of learning to ‘navigate’ itself and remains a theme of both the Undergraduate and the post-graduate level of ‘Honours’ all addressed in our CMI curriculum.

The smaller groups of two and three, though accepted as ‘most effective,’ were not always handled with the best possible results. Small group interaction though focused on the Socratic questioning style must not take place without serious accountability. Both the Facilitator (of undergraduate level), or the Tutor (of our post-graduate level) must careful think through the material being taught with the specific student or students in mind. Though the student must carefully approach their own individual preparation, the Facilitator’s or Tutor’s guidance is still a central factor in meeting the need of each student. Each student has his or her own – very different - background, and deals with differing limitations or potentialities.

Homiletics and Hermeneutics. The learning objectives in our Biblical survey courses, the theology, pastoral counseling, history, missiology, and other courses were carefully selected to establish strong communicative or homiletical skills based on a solid hermeneutical technique. This aspect of the course work has been reasonably efficient though on-going improvement and revisions of the Study Guides - an accepted practice and reality within our circles. Separate courses on Homiletics and Hermeneutics have not always seemed necessary since we have carefully integrated these important subjects into our overall curriculum and have woven them carefully into the fabric of our educational paradigm.

We have sought to motivate our students to develop their own ‘action plan(s)’ for learning where they can apply, integrate and evaluate the body of knowledge available to them. This has been primarily focused around “Preparation Notes” and an Annual Course Portfolio maintained by each student. The Portfolio, meant to address the issues of life (ethics and moral judgment) values, along with issues of beliefs specific to the Bible as God’s revealed Word, serve as the presuppositional basis for all of our pastoral studies. The Portfolio is meant to be a future resource for our student’s on-going adult learning and as a source for their own future role as teachers, facilitators, tutors and mentors of others.

One of our objectives was to encourage strong self-motivating, self-disciplined and self-directed study and research outside of the motivation to succeed or fail based on grades. I must confess this issue of “self-focused responsibility” has been one of our less effective areas[35] in the overall development of our programme. Another weakness has been identified around the “feedback” of giving “marks” or of grading and evaluation the work accomplished and the level of communication between students and their course Facilitators. The subjective nature of our testing and grading systems is an on-going struggle and is viewed as an area of weakness, as well.

Another matter of our attention has been the use of advanced One on One study practicums that we call apprenticeships. In our Cape Town based institute we have emphasised this approach primarily with our full-time undergraduate students. This situational-based education operates as practical introduction, experience and the basis for mentorship discussion and runs parallel to our regular curriculum. These short but focused practicums or ‘apprenticeships’[36] are far more important to our overall training than many “lecturers” seem to appreciate. Further, usually for our post-graduate students, we’ve developed our own concept of a one to three year (full or part-time) internship. Such ‘Internships’ focus on obtaining stages of increased experience in pastoral studies (counselling, teaching, preaching, and administration) along with further studies (as appropriate), i.e. Honours, Greek, the Masters Thesis, etc. These ‘Internships’ are uniquely monitored so as not to interfere with the students’ autonomy, freedom of expression and sense of responsibility for the task(s) assigned.

Navigating Life – Seas Requires On-going Revision.

I intend to use this section to introduce some recommended changes in our institute’s study policies and procedures.

Education is life-preparation and not just “job-training.” Education is more than “content dumping” as well, as has already been discussed. The nature of the education that we as a church and service (or ministry) oriented institute hope to offer is more than a course committed to functionality! Our educational goals for our students prepares men and women for selfless service not just “job security.” We offer training for the intellect by which the intellect is disciplined to be able to navigate Truth and to guide others in their perceptions of life. This navigational ability is intended to assist others in discovery of real life goals: values and meaning. Of course, each student’s specific needs, talents and personality require that we formulate the education being offered with each student’s spiritual, emotional and mental capacities[37] in view.

The seas of life need navigation by navigators who were trained by navigators, themselves! Fully equipped navigators need to be prepared and on a level of competency to be able to serve as ‘tutors’ themselves. Not every personality or individual senses, appreciates or accepts this calling but it is surely our calling as “navigators” to serve as willing and able guides to insure that the ship arrives at its intended end – be it only over the longer course of life. This thought of ‘navigating’ is a thought that requires far more than a commitment to the immediate - the ‘now’ and must include a vision for the future, as well. Motivating others to accept the value of developing navigational skills is a mater of creating vision by “vision sharing” and a commitment to building a learning environment that includes “mental models”[38] and the related learning skills.

Years ago I monitored a missionary friend as he and his wife, along with associates established an effective missionary outreach in a European country where Christianity was, in part, no longer seen as relevant to the populace. Nonetheless, in only a matter of a few years numerous converts were made and in a short time period a fledgling “Bible College” with a traditional lecture method was established using the American Bible College course structure. The project flourished and I found it most encouraging - since it was my personal friend leading the way. Within a few more years, I was shocked to hear that my friend’s first group of graduates having completed their three year course, announced upon ‘graduation’ that they were abandoning the “Independent” type of ministry and its doctrine, etc., in favour of a State Church position with its “better retirement plan” and more “secure work environment.” My friend and his associates were so ‘heart-broken‘ that some left missionary work behind and others went into other types of Christian service. I had to stop and ask myself what lesson or message I could learn from this amazing occurrence.

The primary lesson, I felt I could not help but see, was that: Servant-leaders cannot be “mass-produced on a ‘production-line.’ I further realized that capability and competency may well result from education itself but a useful education is something dimensionally far more than mere functionality. Individualistic success orientation can mislead one to believe that they have acquired leadership but such leaders generally and primarily look out for their own interests and projects rather than the congregation. Servant-leaders, then, are not ‘cloned’ - they are inspired, motivated and focused on the genuine. To bring glory to God is understand the need all of us have to learn within a context of respect for others, personal honesty and a recognition of true Truth. Where functionality reigns, individualism slides into self-centredness and ultimately true Truth is sure to be marginalised.

Navigating and Navigators: It is of interest - at least as regards my theme of "Navigating Life's Seas" that young James Cook's "education" or training began with (the sure to become famous) Cook serving first as a navigator in the British Royal Navy. Then he had further 'life preparation' through his next appointment as the Master of several small craft. His next steps in "internship" came as he was occupied for some time completing a survey of the coast of Canada and Newfoundland. Respect for his 'navigational ability' actually led to his commissioning as a Lieutenant and his assignment to carry-out an expedition to observe from Tahiti the transit of the planet Venus. Only then, was he honoured with the Captaincy of the famous ship, the Endeavour, and with the search for a "huge continent" ... only reputed to exist somewhere in the Southern Pacific Seas.

Navigating Life - Seas calls for the ability to identify truth and interpret reality. The skills of being a observant and reflective - even 'critical' - thinker is at the core of the deep learning required to navigate the seas of life. A 'navigator' is in reality a student of 'hermeneutics' - one who develops the art of accurate or sound interpretation. Actively (versus passively) thinking through the information available around us comes only for those who value questions over answers!

The early Navigators ( Also See June Blog) like those famed in the High seas folklore of the Dutch, French, Danish, and British were men driven by questions. Precision, relevance, and significance were the sources of their 'Navigator's' logic, neither mere academic arguments, nor the prestige, fame or even the wealth of the Aristocracy were their driving forces. They were men who understood that authority depended upon accuracy and upon one's genuine commitment to the good of others. Anything else was not really "authority" but something little more than "official power." These men "set course" by thinking for themselves though they clearly respected the viewpoints of others.[39]

If we are to use navigation as a modern metaphor or parable, of sorts; then, we need to understand that improvements in our abilities, outlooks and decisions are vital issues. The first of such improvements I am recommending for our Institute is for our undergraduate students:

It is my recommendation That our undergraduate students be required to read a specified minimum number of texts, recommended readings and reference works from our Library. In addition that they be asked to write short summaries with a critical focus on the content as it relates to their current course syllabi. The summary, will need to be written in a style suitable for presentation as a “reading” and the student should expect that they may be called upon to read their summary in class and that a time period (10-15 minutes) will be allocated for discussing or debating the ideas or value of the summary as presented. In most cases, the summary topic may be chosen (by the student) from among the three or more Socratic Preparation Questions provided in the Study Guide.

It is important (at this juncture) to state what is stated in the Study Guides - that our students need to check their own level of self-discipline and motivation. The student is responsible to plan a carefully thought-out study-plan and to seriously use the recommended reading and the library with personal dedication. More research and broader reading is needed by each student if the goals of our programme, our teaching methods and our concept of education are to succeed.

The current “Preparation Notes” that the students are required to complete and submit must be completed and submitted by e-mail to the course’s Facilitator 24 hours before class-time. I am suggesting that, in addition to these Preparation Notes, each student attach their summaries at that same time (i.e., 24 hours in advance of the scheduled class).

The next area of recommended improvement is for our Honours[40] students. This is obviously a major shift in emphasis. I must begin by admitting that this past six months has been a real challenge for me as a “facilitator” and “Socratic teacher.” This challenge led to the inquiry and the review that I have now entered into in this paper or report. I am recommending a shift away from small group classroom styled Socratic teaching in our CMI Honours Programme. Up to this time classes were organised around the Student’s study notes and general preparation using the Study Guide along with assigned texts and some additional reading. The reading (in previous years - in the case of most students) was simply not broad enough and was not extensive or deep enough!

The shift in emphasis that I am now recommending is away from the small group and Socratic Facilitator to a “Tutorial Style” as described in the following paragraphs. The study environment will be more toward one-on-one or one-on two, at the most.

The Honours Student: The student will be obliged to carry out his or her research under the direct oversight of an individual Tutor’s care. Consequently, the student will recognize the benefit of having the Tutor’s advice, insight and counsel to prevent them (the pupil) from taking wrong turns and being falsely impressed with superficial and potentially emotional appeals. The student who will benefit most is the student that learns to “examine evidence and to think for himself”[41] The student that will benefit most - over the years and life-time ahead - is the student who reads, take notes, listens and speaks critically and with a sense of strategic timing.[42] The student desiring to “succeed” in the best sense of the word, should determine to hold a genuine respect for reading as research and for genuine scholarship (the art of being a ‘comparer’) as a role player in illumination[43]. The serious student will understand that the Tutor is not always in “good form” and that every now and then both Tutor and Student may just fail to “jell.” Of course, the Tutor must be aware that the student giving his/her “oral reading” or engaging in Socratic discussion may well have similar “down” times. The solution may include re-scheduling a class every now and then or recognizing the need to cancel – even “mid-stream” in theTutorial session if necessary.

Sometimes a “mini-lecture” is called for, and the student needs to be ready to recognise that he must shift from critical mode to “content intake” mode by beginning to make notes, listen wholeheartedly and get on with learning with this more ‘traditional’ approach. Whatever the Tutor felt was needed to make the Socratic Discussion effective he possibly sensed was simply not present - not on this day or not in relation to this specific subject and the teaching plan will need to change to accommodate the situation.

Planning and writing ones “Essay” or “Oral” presentation must not be left to the last minute and the student must plan the reading time-periods and writing time-periods with genuine discipline! Students must realize that scheduling your study life sets the stage for a well organised lifestyle through-out your life and future and should not be considered an option! Understanding the context of a subject calls for a serious respect for the historical[44], and cultural relevance of each subject assigned. When the Study-guide seems deficient or flawed in some way it is vital that the student immediately e-mail or SMS his Tutor for advice or a suggestion for ‘going forward.’

The Honours Weekly Meeting: Similar to, or at least modeled on the Oxford and Cambridge undergraduate Tutorial method, this weekly meeting will last between 60 and 90 minutes. The goal is to encourage the students to think for themselves. It is, to a great degree, intended to encourage a more self-directed study ethic (this is something the student reading this article should stop and ponder for a bit).

Although two or three students may be present in the weekly meeting[45], it is best when the hour is focused on the student who has been scheduled to present the Oral[46] / Reading. Though the student may well be inclined to defend his position, the analysis of the Tutor or the discussion content the Tutor may decide to add or provide needs to be carefully thought through or weighed. Still, when the student is convinced he or she can make no real contribution, or that the Tutor’s thoughts are “the final word” or rule, learning stops! In this situation the “teamwork” of both the student and the Tutor need to be given a priority. This situation must not be allowed!

In our Institute, the focus on both the homiletical and the hermeneutical requires more than a laconic presentation or oral and/or a “sleepy” response from the Tutor, as well! The nature of the academic research expected in a Tutorial is one of honest and open exploration. The student who seeks to impress the Tutor or only to focus on material usable for later “Mid-Term or Final Examinations” has surely missed recognising the opportunity and value of discussing and evaluating a subject with a more learned academic, the Tutor.

In its most basic form, “the tutorial is a weekly meeting of the student with the teacher to whom he is especially committed. This does not replace other methods, such as instruction by lecture or in class[47]. It clearly cannot replace private study. Indeed it assumes all these and includes their results in the preparation of a weekly essay, which is presented orally, listened to by the tutor and discussed immediately. The whole process - of reading, discussion, arrangements for the following week - takes about an hour.” [48]

The Honours Tutor: The Tutor inquires, probes and scrutinises the student’s reading and the subject designated for that week. He does this by the use of theoretical ideas, analytical logic, and of course by analysis of the context, through induction and sound illustration. The Tutor, then, guides or rather directs (and/or navigates all concerned) through the Oral or Reading, the discussions and the summary by either the Tutor or a Guest Tutor - or in some cases, by the other attending students - even now and then by the student for whom the hour is dedicated but all of this is accomplished by careful use of the Socratic[49] question(s). The use of Bloom’s Six Levels is helpful, especially to the new Tutor, to assure that the Socratic Questions are used accurately and in an interesting and non-repetitive way.

It is of the utmost importance that the Tutor finds methods above skepticism and beyond the sarcastic to challenge or to criticize! Inquiry, though critical in nature and theoretical in content is still constructive criticism and analysis must always lead toward value oriented interpretation and not just skepticism for skepticism's own sake. The following story illustrates the dangers of education that leads to skepticism! All too often, education is viewed as illegitimate if it deals in absolutes – such as the Word of God. Many educationists are convinced that honesty or objectivity and skepticism are one and the same thing. Post-modernism claims there is not absolute – no genuine “truth.” We disagree, of course, but we accept that education can be honest, it must be objective and it must not allow the presupposition to be hidden from view any more than the context should be hidden or the analysis is limited to a screening method that refuses to consider all objections – at least all within reason.

I remember, years ago, setting at the dinning room table of a fellow missionary and friend in Metz, France. My missionary friend had invited a French Academic and past Roman Catholic priest to join us for a discussion of the Bible and philosophy. The discussion went on for hours - mostly in French (with translations back and forth) and with some broken English intermittently thrown in when either side felt it would help. Was any Progress made? Well, an open discussion has as its heart a sense of progress all of its own.

Then, almost climatically, the Frenchman ‘looked me in the eye’ announcing in better English than I knew he could use: “You have almost convinced me to accept Jesus Christ as my savior and redeemer, and even I could become an independent or free Christian, like yourself! Maybe I could become a Baptist, like you, as well? But NO! I can not! Because to believe - to have faith - to trust God and the Bible as His Word - it is not possible! If I trust and believe I would have to give up being French!” I asked “why so?” and the retort has stayed in my mind every since that day! He replied: “To be French is to be SKEPTICAL, and not to be French is something I cannot contemplate!” I close these thoughts on skepticism to say that to doubt - as a supreme right or worse as an obligation - is a religious/philosophical statement that fails to educate objectively!

The Honours Examination: We live in an era of increasingly defined examinations and specific outcomes. The ‘generalists’ or those questioning “quality-control” are under great pressure today! The bureaucracy of standards, “policing” and intrusive legislation and “policy gurus” look for outcomes as “the solution” for the weaknesses of modern education. Regretfully, the failure of the educational system in its various steps and stages cannot be corrected by the examination process in any form. Outcomes are excellent to set goals and define standards, but as a process of education the examination only stifles creativity, judgment and intuition!

Speaking, I am sure, for no one other than myself: I am absolutely opposed to any idea that an “examination” might somehow be something of any great value or worth; or that, it is more than a subjective tool - at best and worst - at the same time! Any “grading” or “marking” is nothing more than an assessment or rather nothing more than a subjective word of warning or encouragement linked to nothing more than a subjective matter, issue or thought! To ‘give a grade’ is then, just that - it is a ‘gift’ nothing more.

Objectivity in history, sociology, psychology - any of the humanities (really) - philosophy, comparative religion, pastoral spirituality or even Biblical theology are all matters for God and only God Himself. We on the other hand, work subjectively, sinfully and humanly but no matter - we must work in a spirit of giving our “best” (though surely subjective) efforts!

But we all: Librarian, Student, Tutor, and Examiner must do our best to enjoy the journey.

Dr. Marc S. Blackwell, Sr., M.Th.; D.Th. (Church History), UNISA.


BIBLIOGRAPHY with notations:

Blackwell, Marc S., The History of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in Southern Africa, University of South Africa, 2002.

Blaikie, W. Garden, DD, LLD, The Personal Life of David Livingstone, Westwood, Barbour and Company, Inc., 1986

Brown, David, Our collaboration through the Church Ministries Institute and David’s various contributions in reference to adult learning and Blooms taxonomy were most helpful in summarising the Socratic style we were trying to improve in the 1990s. He is a Biblical Ministries Worldwide Missionary and Educator who has served in both Africa and Europe but is currently serving in South Africa.

Palfreyman, David, (Ed.), The Oxford Tutorial: ‘Thanks, you taught me how to think,’ Oxford, Blackwell Oxford Bookshop, 2008. OxCHEPS: Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, is the UK based study group within New College, Oxford. The sixteen contributors to this book, though sometimes repetitious of other contributors, no less make genuinely helpful insights for those of us attempting education on a one on one and small group basis.

Ramsay, Sir William M., The Education of Christ, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1902; Was Christ Born in Bethlehem?: A Study on the Credibility of Luke, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1898; Luke and other Studies in the history of Religion,London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1908. St Paul The Traveller and the Roman Citizen, London, Hodder and Staughtin,1894, Doctor Ramsay was the Professor of Humanities at Aberdeen University. Formerly Professor of Classical Archaeology and Fellow of Exter and of Lincoln College, Oxford. His insight into First Century Education had a profound effect on my own outlook on education from the earliest stages of my own education and then too on my own maturation in understanding the processes of pedagogy and spiritual change in the 1970s and again in the 1990s.

Senge, Peter M., The Fifth Discipline: The Art of the Learning Organization, New York, Currency Doubleday, 1990. Director of the Center for Organizational Learning at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts, USA.

Schaeffer, Francis A, A Christian Worldview, Winchester, Crossway Books,1982. The unique contribution of Dr. Francis Schaeffer on a whole generation was the ability to communicate the truth of historic Biblical Christianity in a way that combined intellectual integrity with practical, loving care. This grew out of his extensive understanding of the Bible from a deep commitment to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and a critical study of the world of man. These two pillars supported his inquisitive and analytical mind on the solid reality of the truth of God's creation and of his revelation. He understood the roots of modern thinking in its rejection of reality and rationality and pointed out the logical conclusions in a wide range of disciplines and in society.

Dr. Schaeffer understood that what a person believes will influence the way he acts in history and individual situations. There is a relationship between a person's view of truth and life, between philosophy and practice, between faulty ideas and foolish choices. Dr. Schaeffer discussed the truth of reality with anyone in many settings. This in turn brought students, professionals, scholars and others from around the world to his home to learn from his insights. They returned with them to their own world and applied them to their circle of life and work. The ideas continue to bear fruit and to stimulate discussions and discoveries through more than 25 books, several films, taped seminars and lectures at leading universities in Europe, the US and abroad. The result has been a profound and enduring impact upon many thousands, who have themselves gone to make their own mark in history.

The central thrust of Dr. Schaeffer's teaching is that Biblical Christianity is the truth about the real world. The only reason to be a Christian is an acknowledgment of what is objectively true about human beings, the real world and the basic human predicaments. The Bible is true in all that it affirms. This emphasis is not so much the summary of academic instructions or doctrinal positions. It is the result of a searching mind, of being exposed to human history, the European culture and art, and of in-depth discussions with knowledgeable people for a life time of study, observation and work.

With the Bible as his base and a profound interest in human beings, Dr. Schaeffer's insights were developed through the experience of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the study of Florentine society and art, in lectures followed by tough discussions at modern Cambridge, in rude exposure to the slums of Bombay and in probing questions of people from a great variety of backgrounds, in abortion protests, in response to life in the wider arena of human need and pervasive intellectual confusion in our world. by - Udo W. Middelmann, President - The Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation

Smith, R., Helping Adults Learn How to Learn, Chicago, Prentice, 1983.

[1] I would like to acknowledge a broad influence and use of The Oxford Tutorial in the development of this paper. Direct quotations have been footnoted accordingly but often the indirect influences have been difficult to identify and then due credit may not have been fully given, Equally, R. Smith’s 1983 Edition of Helping Adults Learn How to Learn, has had a long-term, even over-arching, influence and footnoting was insufficient. Blooms, Taxonomy was another influence I found difficult to identify for the reader but must mention at the very beginning of this paper. My own sermons on “Learning from Christ” and the influence on these sermons by the writings of Sir William M. Ramsay, once Professor of Humanity in Aberdeen University, are genuinely beyond my ability - at this stage - to accurately reference. My appreciation to all!

[2] Transformation, of course, must be founded in sound pedagogical theory to be methodologically effective. Transformation for the sake of abstract ‘change’ is not acceptable. We are looking back into the best theory, as well modeling new thought, to assist our on-going develop of these new applications. drMSBsr

[3] The (CCMI) Cape Church Ministries Institute and the (OBK) Onafhanklike Baptiste Kweekskool {a Loose translation could be: “Independent Baptist Training School or Seminary” but rather in light of the Murray brothers’ use of word imagery through the word: “Kweek” - one is reminded of the Afrikaans thought of cultivation) this institute or branch-school represent a loosely knit cooperative of independent study centres. Officially, the Cape CMI is a licensed branch of South Africa’s (NWU) North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus.

[4] Rhodesia was renamed “Zimbabwe” from 1979.

[5] Traditional Education, as I understood it, has its value but is seriously limited by its use of lecture style teaching that primarily calls for rote memorisation, a simplifying standardisation, and a specific skills dominated curriculum. Students were expected to be ‘accountable,’ carefully ‘examined’ and submissive in their perception and evaluation of the material. Much of the teaching was aimed at reproducing (clone style) copies of an imaginary product - the ‘graduate’. Traditional education became primarily content oriented or focused. In the development of Western Capitalism it had followed a course from medieval Roman Catholic scholasticism to its natural outcome: that of an over-systematised efficiency oriented professional training style.

[6] For further inquiry into the rise and development of the Evangelical Bible Institute or College see the following: Beale, David O., In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism since 1850, [Chapter 7, p. 87-91; Chapter 12, p. 135-140,; Chapter 15, p. 165-170,] Greenville, Unusual Publications, 1986; also note: Dollar, G.W., A History of Fundamentalism in America, Greenville, UP, 1973, p. 70-71.

[7] The Missouri Lutheran Church, St Louis had published a number of articles in the early 1970s that had encouraged me to use creativity in forming an Adult Education programme and was especially helpful in my own conceptualisation of Mentorship. (Numerous additional books on Mentorship arrived in the 1980s.)

[8] Schaeffer, Francis A, A Christian Worldview, Winchester, Crossway Books,1982.

[9] Many of our early students desiring an undergraduate degree followed our advice to complete their B.A. degree through the state accredited correspondence university; since, at that time, we were not yet a licensed educational institution ourselves. We received accreditation licenser some fifteen years later.

[10] Naturally, there were many steps in the development of this educational project. As mentioned there were the earliest (six to eight: Don, Kevin, Lance, Ulrich, Stan, Stuart, Tirivivirie and others learning as ‘part-time’ students) group of students in the Rhodesian period. Then there was the Natal Province developments (or the early South African period) with Durban, New Castle, and Richards Bay that collectively provided study groups with more than twelve or so pastoral and lay students. Eventually there was further extension of the CMI concept to the Transvaal through the Biblical Ministries Worldwide, as well. In this period the concept grew and developed further –but all of this was not without those who questioned its worthiness, misunderstanding of its purpose and even questioning its academic value. All of this is best chronicled in a Doctoral Thesis: Blackwell, Marc S., The History of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in Southern Africa, University of South Africa, 2002.

Education for missionary work and for leadership training in Africa may be summed-up in the words of Dr. David Livingstone as the development of: “The sort of men … as I see before me; men of education, standing, enterprise, zeal and piety … I hope that many I now address will embrace that honourable career. Education has been given us from above for the purpose of bringing to the benighted the knowledge of a Saviour. If you know the satisfaction of performing such a duty, as well as the gratitude of God which the missionary must always feel, in being chosen for such a noble, so sacred a calling, you would have no hesitation in embracing it.” (Excerpt of a lecture given first at Oxford and later at Cambridge, both in 1857) Livingstone further summarized the matter of taking rather ‘daring steps’ for the sake of Christian development in his famous adage: “At His disposal, to go anywhere - provided it be FORWARD.” Blaikie, W. Garden, DD, LLD, The Personal Life of David Livingstone, Westwood, Barbour and Company, Inc.,1986, p.76. Also consider the song in Livingstone’s words: “Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me; lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any tie,save the tie that binds me to Thy heart; Lord Jesus, my King, I consecrate my life, - Lord to Thee.” This poem was authored by David Livingstone, Majesty Music, 1978.

[11] Formal - Lecture style traditional education that is formed around transferring specific content with success in study for examination as a central feature. Non-formal - adult learning is formed around inductive inquiry where the learner is truly involved. This understanding of learning is that it remains tentative, anticipating, participating and collaborative. It appreciates some degree of formal content but establishes learning as continuous, experiential and critical with simpler goals of understanding the why and how of truth and its operational logic or concepts. It is oriented towards interpretation, values, change and reasonable innovation. Students and Tutors, alike, come fully prepared for responsible discussion. Informal - adult learning is casual: i.e., not specifically organised or planned.

[12] or “Tutorial”

[13] At that stage I was unwilling to use a term like “Tutorial” since it seemed presumptuous to use such a well known academic term for our small and untested project.

[14] Not to be mistaken with the term “Informal Education,” i.e. non-structured. The fact was that there was quite a bit of structure. The assigned work was planned with the outcome in mind. The class session was planned by the “facilitator” to lead to a specific goal or set of goals and the discussions were “guided” by a skilled effort by the facilitator to use student responses to “Socratic” styled questions, i.e. those being questions that did not have answers inherently-evident or ‘self-evident’ in nature. drMSBsr

[15] Today we might prefer the title “tutor” or even in some specific cases, ‘mentor.’

[16] During the 1980s the need for a more effective ‘academic’ standard was debated amongst our Durban, S.A. institutes and the need for more comparative or even contrasting content was discussed. The question, at hand, was one of if we should or should not integrate course material from a more varied content base. The obvious danger of offering a content base that is too narrow or too broad to be effective in learning is difficult to assess. Faithfulness to “the truth” often clouds the question of the genuineness or reality of our engagement with the truth. Trial and error often are the only reasonable options and the need to adjust and remain contemporary can be an ongoing nemesis or challenge.

My own view of educational content was and still is far too simplistic for many, if not most; and that, contents value has little to do with the issue - in fact it is none of the above issues but it is the process of participative discussion, evaluation or debate, and the development of acute moral reasoning or judgment that is vital to creating the critical disciplines and the development of skills for use of problem solving strategies that makes education “effective.”

[17] Humanism and its philosophical base in a mystical sort of existentialism looses much of its educational ability due to its inability to arrive (modernism) at a belief in (post-modern) the ability to actually discover Truth itself. Conservative Christianity looks to the Bible, the Holy Scriptures as the basis for all Truth and the Self-revelation of God, Himself and this difference creates the great chasm and debate between the two competing forces in society.

[18] Newman, The Idea of a University, 1852. Newman believed this was especially or essentially the quality of what was then referred to as a ‘Liberal Education.”

[19] Vocational study, of course, has its place but leadership is far more than particular “job-related” skills or schooling that is limited in time or historical perspective. Education should include the impartation of skills that lead the individual to be able to update the skills already learned. David Palfreymans points out that: Higher education should, over and above technical skills (imparted in the degree course) teach: “how to update” -”when and how to update those skills. Higher education is not ‘schooling for adults. higher education is the development of critical thinking...” from the Oxford Tutorial, Chapter One,”Higher Education, Liberal Education, Critical-Thinking, Academic Discourse, and the Oxford Tutorial as Sacred Cow or Pedagogical Gem,” p.10

[20] Ibid, Newman,

[21] Pelfreman, David, “ Preface to the Chinease Edition,” The Oxford Tutorial, New College, University of Oxford, Blackwell & OxCHEPS Publication, (2008), p. 119.

[22] Senge, Peter, The Fifth Discipline, 1992; Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, 1994; and, The Dance of Change, 1999, New York, Currency - Doubleday. See Bibliography for further information.

[23] Edification, in Biblical usage is always something someone does to the betterment of another person. To edify yourself is unacceptable in Christian thought – it is pridefulness and unChristlike in nature.

[24] God’s Self-revelation in Christ and through the Word of God is preferred over or rather than that which our own imaginations might possibly ‘craft’ or that we might attempt to do by emotionally forming him - in our own minds - to suit ourselves.

[25] Romans 3 explains ‘sin’ or ‘sinfulness’ in behavioural terms and summarises all of us as morally and spiritually having “come short of the glory of God’ - Romans 3:23. The process of our making a dynamic difference - in our lives - in our behaviour through the change of our ‘inner-self’ is in Romans 3:24 and throughout chapter 4, focused on the forensic forgiveness of our ‘sinfulness.’ Like Abraham of old - we too: through the justification that is declared and applied by God, our creator, judge and redeemer, now have forgiveness of sin available to us through faith in Jesus Christ. This forgiveness, one should remember, is accomplished by placing our faith in the salving work of Jesus Christ rather than in our own selves or somehow through our own ‘good works.’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

[26] Romans 2 and Galatians 5 are interesting reading on this subject.

[27] Colossians 1:17 nasv

[28] Smith, R., Helping Adults Learn How to Learn, 1983, p 101

[29] “Rote”, i.e the mechanically, automatically, unthinkingly, mindlessly; from memory, by heart. See also: www.criticalthingking.org

for some additional thoughts on this issue.

[30] Pelfreyman, David, The Oxford Tutorial: Sacred Cow or Pedagogical Gem?” Oxford, Blackwell and OxCHEPS, 2008, “...more widely read than (with) ... a less well-resourced teaching system might allow the student more scope to play the assessment game by, say, concentrating only on that part of the syllabus tested in the assessed work and/or on the limited range of examination questions the student hopes to get away with preparing for!” p. 35

[31] Though “lectures” should be shorter, tentative in nature, and available for interruption by the student’s queries. Any “lecture” should serve the purpose of working as a “preliminary trigger” to incite or encourage a more genuine time of questioning and interaction. To allow for successful interaction by the students and facilitator sufficient time must be carefully allocated for open and free interaction in either the larger classroom group or the smaller discussion groups.

[32] The guided inductive study style, or “Navigational method,” as I have referred to it, is not simply a focus on the development of logic or only on interactive and inductive learning. By the use of the nomenclature: Navigation speaks of the careful comparison and referencing methods needed to arrive at an accurate understanding of Truth. This presumes that we will give due attention to the hermeneutical principles necessary for inductive study. Further, one must not ignore the resources available and necessary for inductive analysis: comparing Biblical truth in its progressive and dispensational revelation, broad reading as regards the themes under consideration, and serious comparison of the historical development of dogma and its sources. drMSBsr

[33] We recognize that many of our facilitators were (themselves) taught by the “lecture method” and are far more accustomed to teaching as they were taught. The value of the traditional teacher with an orientation to “dumping content” is simply not viewed as a legitimate or valued approach within our educational setting. Nonetheless, over the years many have struggled (for some lengthy periods) to make the transition to a more Socratic technique to Adult Learning. Some, it is recognized, are simply not suited to this interactive style of Adult Learning, not understanding or being able to adapt or even accept its value, at least to the degree that others might do. drMSBsr

[34] Navigation: a nomenclature or classification for a guided inductive study style, or method used in concert with Socratic Questions. Such “Socratic Questioning” requires a less than specific style of questioning and accepts something less than a traditional response or “answer” – i.e. a concrete, definitive or final outcome or response. This view of “Navigation” encourages enquiry and is designed to lead the student to understand the best use and nature of logical investigation. Navigation, in the terminology of shipping, accepts that there is a goal (or ultimate ‘port’) in mind, but it does not necessitate an approach that assumes that there is only one route or that no other ‘ports’ may be visited in route. In theology we are not placing Special Revelation, i.e., the Truth: God’s Holy Word, on an equal level with other sources or with ‘praxis theory,’ but we are carefully encouraging our students to arrive at this understanding themselves, without the domination of the “lecture method” stipulating and outlining the “final outcome” without due process.

[35] Especially among our younger students. Where students have experienced management level leadership in the business sector the ability to handle such a focused ‘adult education’ paradigm is clearly increased.

[36] An “apprenticeship” last some six to nine months. It includes practical training that involvers the following elements: 1. Preparatory orientation reading and research, 2. Observation and clarification in reference to the purpose and theories behind the specific area of learning, 3. Involvement within varied levels of interaction and cooperation with those already functioning in these roles, 4. Taking personal responsibility for the task/s being apprenticed under the supervision of the responsible person in that role, 5. Operating alone or with a level of independent activity designed to provide “genuine” experience to the mix. ^., Then comes the closing stages of an apprenticeship:

[37] Romans 12:1-6 Also note J.H. Newman’s (1852) “The Idea of a University” for a definition of Higher Learning. See: The Oxford Tutorial, p. 37 and/or Rotthblatt, 1997, p. 287. Additionally consider the Further Reading List by Pelfreman The Oxford Tutorial, p. 43f

[38] Senge, Peter M., The Fifth Discipline: The Art of the Learning Organization, New York, Currency Doubleday, 1990, p.186.

[39] Blackwell, Marc S., Dr., BLOG: http://marcjudie.blogspot.com

[40] To those not so initiated: An Honours Degree in South Africa is a “4th year” course made-up (usually) of six or so primary courses that reflect the nature of the three year undergraduate degree recently completed. The course can take two years to complete but is a good bit more than an American 4th year in a four year degree programme. The Honours Degree is a tentative sort of bridge toward a Master’s Degree in that it calls for wider and deeper reading. drMSBsr When properly taught, tutored or led calls the student to a rather stronger level of “critical-thinking, reflective-learning (or deep-learning.” This all implies a commitment to a “life-long, open-ended journey.”{ Palfreyman, D., ‘The Oxford Tutorial’ p.41]

[41] Mallinson, C., Southwest Review, No. 27 (1), Article on the “The Oxford Tutorial,” 1941 - p. 123-134 as quoted by D. Palfreyman, The Oxford Tutorial, p. 22.

[42] The student’s sense or capability to identify, analyse or communicate with “Strategic-Timing,” so-called, is generally overlooked in education (Socratic or otherwise). By Strategic-Timing I am referring to the ability to recognise the importance of a matter, or rather - even the value of a thought or truth as a “player,” a step, or possibly a stage in the process of human change, learning or understanding.

This ...”timing” is strategic in that it understands bigger picture - not failing to remember the sureness of the Creator nor the shortcomings of the created. Further this sense in “strategic” in that it keeps contact with the context or the “seen in the unseen” (2 Cor 4:17-18) This sense - is like unto an additional sense or inner feeling for the systemic nature of logic, rationale and argument. (1 Corinthians 1:27) drMSBsr

[43] 1 Corinthians 2:7,10-16; 2 Timothy 2:14-16; Titus 2:6-8, 11-15.

[44] The historical is not ”just a matter of knowledge” but requires the [Socratic] question be treated by both Tutor and Student as “a logical argument, the weighing of evidence and the use of it.” (Fox, R.L.,Tutorials in Greats and History: The Socratic Method; The Oxford Tutorial, p. 67)

[45] Note that visiting undergraduates and other Tutors or Facilitators may also be present. Invigilation may also require an additional person in attendance.

[46] The practical construction or structure – the basic plan of an Oral Report or Reading is further explained on any number of websites, our own included (MRF/BBF - Bron / Resource) Note: The student should only use the “Assignment Outline” given in your Study Guide for the longer assignments or the writer mid-term or final examinations. The Tutorial Sessions may be thought of as divided into four parts: (i.) The Student Oral Reading (15 minutes or less), (ii.) The Tutorial an/ or the Socratic Discussion (15 minutes or so), (iii.) The Tutor’s Contribution (Lesson or Further Discussion as may include ‘broader’ themes), (iv.) Planning of the next week’s assignments: reading, research, oral reports/readings, future exams, etc. (10 to 15 minutes).

[47] The C-CMI Undergraduate studies keep this aspect in the formula, while the new or revised Honours Courses will build on this undergraduate study but will do so by focusing on the individual’s own reading, reports and research. drMSBsr

[48] Moore, Will G., “The Tutorial System and its Future”, 1968 - as quoted by D. Palfreyman, The Oxford Tutorial, p. 24.

[49] The Socratic Question, for me, is that question that directs the student/s toward deeper dialogue with the Tutor “tweeking” the young mind and with the young mind returning confidently in deeper and/or more meaningful outcomes and more practical thoughts. drMSBsr