A Theology of Conative Styles in Christian Education

Having previously examined a model of conative styles, today I want to consider what conative styles might look like through the basis of a Christian theology. I derive the theological basis of conative styles from the severed relationships of Genesis 3, which by reminder are God/humanity, humanity/humanity, humanity/self, humanity/nature, and nature/nature. As such, I would expect to see five conative styles related to the five severed relationships. It so happens that I tend to see five in my work and life, and label them as follows:

  1. The philosopher, who uses knowledge of the revelation of God to observe and then comment on the actions of others with the goal of motivating change in others. Philosophers deal with questions of morality.
  2. The administrator, who uses knowledge to organize people and processes in order to create change. Administrators deal with questions of direction.
  3. The educator, who uses knowledge to teach others about themselves, God,  and their place in the world in order to create change. Educators deal with questions of identity.
  4. The practitioner, who uses knowledge to make direct, applied change in their environment or to create things. Practitioners deal with questions of stewardship.
  5. The scholar, who uses knowledge to better understand the revelation of God, and expand knowledge of their particular field in order to tell others what they’ve learned. Scholars deal with questions of dominion.

How does this work?

I find that people have a primary drive and a secondary drive. The primary drive describes what they want to accomplish while the secondary drive describes how they go about doing it. For example, I work for someone I would classify as a Practitioner/Educator. As a practitioner, she wishes to make applied changes in the world. She uses education in order to make that happen. I have a pastor friend who is a Practitioner/Philosopher. Like my supervisor, he wishes to make change on the world (he works for a non-profit organization in a poor part of Dallas) and he does this by speaking into people’s lives.

I see similarities between the styles. For instance, the educator and the scholar both perform a teaching function, and in fact, scholars generally end up in teaching careers as their profession. However, while the educator seeks  to teach, the scholar seeks to understand and to expand fields of knowledge . The philosopher and the educator both observe for the purpose of fostering individual change, but the philosopher focuses on God’s view (theological perspective) on the situation while the educator focuses on humanity’s view of self (anthropological and ethical perspective).

I will deal with the application of conative styles in another post, but I end this post with the following:

  1. Look over the course of your life and your present circumstances: how have your conative styles shaped your personal and professional choices?
  2. People of many conative styles have varying professions. My Practitioner/Philosopher friend currently works at a non-profit and is building a church plant. My Philosopher/Administrator friend is an artist with yearnings to be a creative director.

May we train up children in the way they should go, not the way we went.

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