Defining Methodologies in Christian Education

Two of my favorite professors, Drs. Glenn Kreider and Mike Lawson, have impressed upon me the importance of defining terms. When you have uncertainty as to what you mean, then others will too. Therefore, I want to talk about the five methodologies in Christian education and what I mean by them.

Why would I want to do something as dull as that?

For one, because I want to be clear in communication. Two, as I work through this idea, this process will help me solidify my own thinking and distinguish it from other lines of thought. Three, as I think through the implications of how to apply it in various settings, it will help that process the more precisely I can identify the methodologies themselves. Four, I realize that I conceive of these definitions in their ideal sense, recognizing that when you take institutional realities and sin nature into account, distortion occurs.

My caveat: these working understandings may change as I gather more information and incorporate it.

  1. Communication and rhetoric: strategies for persuading others for behavioral change. This involves a good faith transaction on the part of the hearer and the speaker, where the hearer acts in good faith to assume the speaker has something useful to say, and the speaker acts in good faith that the hearer will give consideration to the words of the speaker. These fall under the broader term of dialectics.
  2. Leadership and management: strategies for organizing people and processes for the purpose of creating an meaningful change, or resisting change, in the environment. Leadership involves the people side while management tends to involve the process side (although it’s difficult to draw a hard line between the two). These fall under the broader term of administration.
  3. Teaching and learning: strategies for shaping the mind (knowledge, values, and will) of the individual. Teaching refers to the acts and strategies of the teacher while learning refers to the acts and strategies of the student. These fall under the broader term of education.
  4. Policy and evaluation: strategies for developing and implementing operational principles and determining the effectiveness of those principles. These fall under the broader term of governance.
  5. Research and modeling: strategies for gathering information, and for predicting outcomes based upon that information. Recognize that specific research methodology varies by field, even though the general strategies remain the same; natural science research looks different than social science research, even though both generally employ the scientific method of hypothesis, testing, conclusion.

Parents, your children use these strategies when encountering the world, and you need to encourage and cultivate them. Churches, consider how you might use these to organize your volunteers, to structure your ministerial strategies, and to train the people in your church. Teachers, recognize these as the primary drives of your students and teach them how to harness these drives in order achieve academic success.

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts help others to be acceptable in God’s sight.

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