Tag Archives: academy

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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Threefold Office in Christian Education

In doing some research for a project I’m planning to work on with a friend, I had the chance to contemplate and learn about the threefold office. The concept of the threefold office refers to Jesus’ earthly ministry and roles as prophet, priest, and king. Loosely described, the prophet represents God to the people, receiving proclamations from God and delivering them to the populace. The priest represents the people to God, making sacrifice and intercession on their behalf. The king acts as God’s agent on the earth, ruling and reigning over the people. In doing so, the king also provides an example of how to live, often bearing responsibility for the blessing or curse of the people.

So how does this impact Christian education?

CE happens in one of three places: the church, the home, and the academy (school, as in primary, secondary or higher education). While each commits themselves to CE, they  have differing emphases. It also occurs to me that those roles correspond with the threefold offices, and have a primary educational domain in which they focus. For your consideration (and recognizing the idealism in these descriptions):

  1. The church. The church’s CE role corresponds to the priestly function. At the church, we learn what to value (the affective domain) and where we should place our priorities. The Old Covenant priestly function includes some aspects of teaching, as the priest must instruct the people on the proper ways to approach God, and how to understand and value the sacrificial system. This “priestly” function carries over into the church (I know about the priesthood of all believers and as a dyed-in-the-wool protestant I affirm that belief) where we practice the ritual aspects of faith and experience communion.
  2. The home. The home’s CE role corresponds to the kingly function. In the home, we experience the rule and reign (the parents) who model the proper behavior as set forth by God, and wield the authority granted by God with grace and wisdom. In doing so, parents help children understand their role in the body, in society, and train up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). In short, the student in the  home learns conation, and the home teaches mainly to the conative domain.
  3. The academy. The academy’s CE role corresponds to the prophetic function. Like the prophet, the academy seeks to receive and understand the revelation of God, and then communicate that to the people of God. As such, the academy studies not only the inspired word of God (the canon) but also that which God spoke into existence (creation). In doing so, the academy teaches the content of God’s revelation (the cognitive domain).

The domain and teaching content are not exclusive, but primary. The parents in the home have primary responsibility to help a child find their way, but will also work to shape the values and knowledge of that child. When that family goes to church, the pastor will primarily shape the values of that family, but will also teach the knowledge and practices of the faith. When the child goes to school, he will learn knowledge of God, but that knowledge will shape his values and methods.

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