Category Archives: Along the Journey

From our Center of Lifelong Learning.

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Helping Church Members Grow Spiritually

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

A student in one of my online classes asked a great question:

How do I encourage members to reflect and think theologically?…. I’m having a hard time coming up with an example of what that would even look like in a church setting. I know it’s important, and I use the practice myself at times, but I can’t figure out how to transfer it to a congregation or group setting. Could anyone offer me some insight?

Her question hints at a phenomenon I’ve observed. Clergy do many things for their own spiritual growth. Some they learned at seminary and retained (amazingly, given how much students forget!) as spiritual formation practices. Other ways they learn at seminars, retreats, continuing education events, during the course of their ministry if they’ve become lifelong learners. Continue reading

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For the Bookshelf: Communicating Jesus’ Way

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Communicating Jesus’ Way by Charles H. Kraft is a revision of the 1979 edition by the same title and is Kraft’s third book on communication. The book presents basic thoughts on communication theory and relates them to the specific context of Christian teaching and preaching. The book is short (seven brief chapters and a one page bibliography) and the content is straightforward and presented in outline form.

While the content can only be considered “basic,” it is the type of information that is worth repeating, and being reminded of often. As such the book proves to be a valuable resource of essential communication theory for pastors, students, and teachers. Continue reading

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When is a Sunday School Class Too Large?

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Every once in a while I get a chance to visit congregations with large Sunday School or Sunday morning Bible classes. Some of these classes have between 50 and 100 persons in regular attendance. While that may seem like a sign of success to some, others see those large classes as something to be wary of. Large Sunday School classes were, for a previous generation, both a goal and a measure of success. But even with the more contemporary emphasis on small groups (with 20 people in a group considered already too large) there remain pockets where bigger is better despite everything we know about how large teacher-focused classes are pedagogically ineffective. Continue reading

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For the Bookshelf: Lessons from the Masters

by Israel Galindo. Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Polemics against bad teaching and poor education are a staple in social science, philosophy, and education literature. I suspect for two reasons: first, they are effective in getting readers riled up, and, second, I suppose it’s just too easy to sling tomatoes at poor teachers. After all, who among us hasn’t suffered under one? However, I do love a good rant…

Below are thoughts from critic George Steiner, in Lessons of the Masters (Harvard University Press, 2003). I’m enjoying this book on many levels, including having to use a penknife to cut the folio edges (haven’t had to do that in a long time in this age of e-books!).

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Eight Ways to Maintain Your Learner’s Attention

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Much of what we do by way of teaching takes the form of classroom instruction. It’s a pedagogy that is highly dependent on teacher performance. So much so that we can identify around 49 specific instructional acts that are teacher-specific. The key to instructional effectiveness is knowing how to perform those acts effectively. Part of the dance of the classroom is triggering the connection between teacher performance and student learning. I think too many teachers work too hard at teaching as performance, to the extent they run the risk of turning learning into a spectator sport. When that happens learning loses its effectiveness. The pedagogical principle at work here is, “Students learn what they are giving attention to, and when they don’t give attention, they don’t learn.”

In classroom instruction, then, student attention is key to learning. Here are eight ways to maintain attention in classroom instruction: Continue reading