Friday, August 23, 2013
doing theology: teaching theology by induction
I’m teaching an introduction to Christian theology topic this Semester.
I began with a two questions and a proposal. First question, does anyone here not have access to a computer? All did. Second question, does anyone here not have access to a printer? All did. Which led to the proposal. I will put all the lecture notes and class readings online. And when we meet, rather then talk theology ie me lecture you, we will do theology ie I will guide you, through the readings and my doing theology together.
We were all a bit apprehensive about this new approach, since the dominant model of education involves an expert imparting knowledge. But I was keen to explore a learning by doing, induction process, which better equipped them for the complexity of life beyond the classroom.
To help guide them, I have outlined to them the following process, which they used to get them going.
- My (current) theological question is …
- I’m curious about this because ….
- The theological frame I’m going to us is (in week one I suggested three examples Wesleyan quadrilateral, Miroslav Volf’s three questions, indigenous storytelling approach) …
- My conversation partners will need to include ….
- The values I have used to chose them include (from week three) ….
- I’d like to express my findings by (in week two we noted blogs, film, story, liturgy, writing) …
So far, after four weeks, we are all greatly energised. They have come up with excellent theological questions – none that we would have discussed in a normal syllabus, yet all touching key theological themes. They loved the conversation partner idea. The process really energised the library visit I then organised, when they got shown how to use databases to find conversation partners. Some were heading back to the library after class to search further.
For those interested, I also gave them one example, one of my recent “doing theology” projects – Let me in the sound.
- My (current) theological question is … How does Bono (U2) enable people to connect with God? Can live concerts be a form of liturgy – a communion with the saints?
- I’m curious about this because …. I’m a minister and I wonder how to connect with people; and because in U2 concerts they often reference dead people and I wonder what that does to a live concert, in which some people have faith and other’s do not?
- The theological frame I’m going to us is … a form of Volf – Who are humans (Bono, U2, and the audience)? how they do we live (behave in a live concert)?
- My conversation partners will need to include …. websites – to find out more about what happens in a U2 concert; U22 album – as a record of what happens at concerts; U22 photo records – to focus on Bono’s performance; social media – understand how others interpret Bono; books about the Irishness of U2 – is there a connection between communion of saints and their Irishness; research on how people remember; books on Christian liturgy – how is the body used in performance.
- I’d like to express my findings by …..blogging them, to see if anyone agrees; verbally, at a U2 academic conference; written as a chapter proposal for a book; thinking more carefully about how I use my body and how I pray in worship.