Applying Conative Styles in the Christian Academy

So I talked about education reform in brief in a previous post, but let me expand on that for a moment.

The Problem: For those who have graduated college, consider your major and the classes you took in your major area of study. Now consider your current job. If you’re like me, you currently work in a job which has little to do with the content you studied as a major, or only has tangential relationship to that content. What you carried forward from job to job was the methodology you learned in the process of studying that content.

The solution: Why don’t we rearrange our academies around the methodology instead of the content?

Our educational system organizes around the cognitive (knowledge) domain, so we have math and science and English departments. Imagine, for a moment, a school designed around conative styles. Instead you have  five departments: teaching and learning, policy and evaluation, leadership and management, communication and rhetoric, and research and modeling. This school emphasizes the methods, applying them to the various content fields. We then integrate the content through the various conative fields. For example, in communication class, one might spend a unit studying written communication. In that context one studies English grammar to develop the proper forms of written communication, several pieces of literature in order to analyze various examples of good communication, and the historical context of that literature to examine the effects of written communication.

History, English, and Literature, all in the context of one communications class.

Clearly, one would need to develop a curriculum in a developmentally appropriate manner. Also, one would need to consider the use of each methodology in the various content fields (communication in natural science works differently than communication in a behavioral science context). Now consider if you apply the contative styles to the faculty of the Christian university. In such a university, I would hire five kinds of professors:

  1. Research Professor: This professor works to create, organize, and run research projects. They have a teaching load and serve on committees, but they chiefly work to deepen knowledge of their field, guide graduate and undergraduates in the research process, and to find grants to form research.
  2. Teaching Professor: This professor works to advise and teach students. They have a smaller research load, but the bulk of their responsibilities lie in training students.
  3. Administrative Professor: this professor works as administrative faculty. They have a greater committee load and will often serve as department chair or in other administrative duties, with smaller teaching and research roles.
  4. Clinical Professor: This professor works in their chosen field, and brings real-time and practical experience to teaching. They have the smallest administrative load of all, but will often have a business which serves as an internship site. They also work, much like the development professor, with members of the industry to create relationships between the academy and the businesses who hire the graduates of the academy.
  5. Development Professor: This professor often works in (or runs) the institutes and “think tanks” sponsored by the university. In addition, the professor often sits on various government boards and consults with policy-makers. They work to find and develop projects in cooperation with the industry professionals to make the research relevant to current problems.

Admittedly, this is a radical rethinking of educational practices, but I can dream, can’t I?

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