Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Groothuis on Impersonal Education

Doug Groothuis considers the implications of a Christian view of personality for pedagogical practice and lists a number of examples of the "degradation of persons in American education." Regrettably, many of the elements he identifies are characteristic of theological education.

Not content with simply pointing out the problem, Groothuis proposes the following correctives:
1. Students and teachers live not too far from each other or perhaps even on the same compound. They spend protracted time together in many different situations, as Jesus did with the disciples.

2. Class sizes are fairly small, such that students get to know each other and the teacher is allowed into the lives of the students and vice versa.

3. Class timing is more elastic, more kairos oriented and less chronos dominated.Few institutions allow for such oddities. Most that approximate these ideas are probably not "accredited" by an official agency. This would include the L'Abris worldwide and ministries that are similar.
Jesus said that a fully trained disciple (i.e., learner) will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). Therefore, truly Christian education has the formation of character and not the transmission of information as its ultimate goal. Groothuis's vision is consistent with this end. I hope more Christian teachers and institutions catch it.

6 comments:

momanna98 said...

Hmm... Sounds like homeschooling to me! And that's been proven to work well. :-)

Beyond The Rim... said...

>truly Christian education has the formation of character and not the transmission of information as its ultimate goal.

I would like to amend that to a both rather than a not. Both character and learning truth (which needs information/knowledge) are necessary. For me the formation of character requires the discipling of the will, which is informed by information/knowledge/wisdom/understanding.

KP said...

I'm in full agreement that learning truth is necessary. In fact, that's one of the reasons I started this blog. However, I was referring to the "ultimate" end of Christian education which I would think should be the same as God's ultimate end for our salvation, conformity to the likeness of Christ for the sake of his glory. I certainly didn't mean to dismiss the vital role of the mind.

Thanks for the comment, beyond.

Doug Groothuis said...

Keith:

Thanks for noting my essay. It has been too long since I talked with you!

Best,
Doug

Beyond The Rim... said...

Nor was I trying to imply that you were dismissing the role of the mind. Sorry if my comment came off as such.

One of my favorite sections of the bible is Romans 12:1-2, where it is only place that actually tells you what to do to transform your mind.

I think the addition of one word to your "Therefore, truly Christian education has the formation of character and not the transmission of information as its ultimate goal." statement would have clarified. I would insert "just" in the middle of "...not "just" the transmission of information..."

Sorry if I tend toward "jot and tiddle" picking (nitpicking).

KP said...

Dr. G, you're welcome. I'm glad to point others to your work.

I agree, it's been too long since we've talked. We'll have to rectify that!