Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Living libraries: a way of thinking about research and learning

Two words that I’m using with our post-graduate programmes that seem to really capture people’s interest and enthusiasm.

It’s based on an idea first developed in Denmark in 2000 in which people are able to borrow a living person rather than borrowing a book. This allows a conversation, in which communities are brought closer together and attitudes are changed. The idea came to Australia in November 2006.

In our post-graduate Master/Doctor of Ministry degree we have topics called Guided Readings. They are basically “boxes” in which a student can pursue some reading on a set topic and in order to be assessed, write a reflective response.

What I am suggesting to our post-grads is that they remain open to borrowing people not books. If you want to reflect on leadership, sure you can read books. But be open to the fact that you can also interview some leaders. If you want to learn about the emerging church, sure you could read. But you could also develop an immersion experience and visit a few communities. Obviously some guidance is needed to ensure as much time goes into reading books as reading “people.”

But it is surely too limited an approach to learning to assume that only books have wisdom. Especially for those interested in the practice of ministry, which, as I have written previously, is about a craft (here and here). As such, I suspect that for some (many?), deepening in this craft can come from interacting with people as well as books.

For more on the origins of the human library idea, see their website here.

Posted by steve at 08:25 AM

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