Tag Archives: conative domain

Matching conative styles to methodology in Christian education

I think you can match conative styles to methodology. How so? Let me show you.

  1. The Philosopher. Considering the philosopher’s desire to understand God’s revelation and then communicate it to others, it seems to me that the philosopher’s chief methodologies are communication and rhetoric. They need to understand how to speak to others in every medium, and how to effectively organize their message in order to create the maximum impact in a person’s life.
  2. The Administrator. The administrator’s desire to organize people and processes manifests in the methodology associated with leadership (people) and management (processes). They need to understand how to direct groups and organizations in carrying out tasks.
  3. The Educator. The educator’s desire to help others understand themselves causes them to understand the methods of teaching and learning. They need to understand how people change in their affections, knowledge, and in their methods.
  4. The Practitioner. The practitioner’s desire to create meaningful change in their environment manifests in methodology related to policy and evaluation. They need to understand how to create and evaluate operational principles and then implement those principles.
  5. The Scholar. The scholar’s desire to understand their environment relates to methodology associated with research and modeling. They need to know how to gather and process information, and come up with predictions for future behavior.

So as I see it, the five methodologies are communication and rhetoric; leadership and management; teaching and learning; policy and evaluation; and research and modeling. Note that the student in Christian education can use any of these methodologies in any cognitive field. For example, the Christian artist who is a philosopher/administrator might learn skills of communication and management in order to function in her role as an art director.

Let me take this a step further. What if you organized your school around these five methodological disciplines? We employ these general disciplines in every field, recognizing that the application of these methods to specific fields varies. For example, research in the behavioral sciences looks different than research in the natural sciences. Research tools and languages in biblical and theological studies looks differently than research in ancient far east religion and philosophy. The general methodology is the same, but the tools and practice are different.

What if, in the Christian home, parents had a strategy and program of study to train their children in all five methods, but also focused on the one or two that their children naturally employ? What if, in the Christian elementary school, we structured our learning around these five methods, using the content of the various cognitive subject matters to teach the methodology. In other words, we taught the subject matter (mathematics, science, Bible, theology, etc.) but all in the context of understanding communication, or research, or leadership, or teaching, or policy. What if, in the Christian church, we organized our Christian Education programs around teaching the values associated with the methods, rather than on the demographics. Fundamentally, I believe that we need to find the universal commonality in education and start there, and I think it should start with conation and methodological disciplines.

We call for educational reform. I say Christian educators should pursue an educational revolution by deconstructing the whole thing and rebuilding from the ground up.


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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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The Conative Domain and Christian education

If you’re a teacher, you probably find reading and thinking about learning domains both helpful and fascinating. Others…not so much. So when I promise to speak about conation and it relationship to Christian education, you might think it irrelevant. Stay with me, because you’ll see why it’s important.

  1. What is conation? Think of it as instinct, mode of operation, or even a person’s method. As opposed to motivation, which deals with the why someone does something, conation (while related) deals with the how. If cognition is the thinking aspects of the mind, and affection is the feeling aspects of the mind, then conation is the doing aspects of the mind.
  2. Educators generally work with the cognitive/thinking aspects of the mind. We concern ourselves with what students know. Our educational system organizes itself around the content of disciplines. Secondarily we concern ourselves with the affective/value aspects of education. We answer the why question of a subject discipline. A well-written course syllabus will have cognitive (I want you to know this by the end of the course) and affective (I want you to value this at the end of the course) objectives. Rarely, you see a behavioral objective (I want you to perform this skill by the end of the course). You never, that I have found, find a conative objective (I want you to do this or operate in this manner by the end of the course).
  3. Christian education involves the cognitive, affective and conative aspects of education. Deuteronomy 6 requires us to love God with our whole mind (cognitive), soul (affective) and strength (conative). Paul in his first letter to Timothy mentions the aim of his instruction is love from a pure heart (cognitive), a good conscience (affective) and a sincere faith (conative). Christian educators must teach and deal with all aspects of the mind: the thoughts, the values, and the methods of the student. Also consider that God has instructed parents to, “train up a child in the way he should go…” which instructs parents to understand that child’s particular leanings and inclinations, and then teach that child how to maximize those so that “he will not depart from it” when he is older.

So what?

  1. Parents should focus on the conative domain. While this does not exclude parents from shaping the values and knowledge of their children (or exclude the academy or church from teaching to the conative domain), parents are in the best position to help shape the methods and instincts by which their children operate.
  2. Curriculum in the Christian academy needs to incorporate the conative domain.
  3. Christian educators need to focus on the conative domain in their classrooms in addition to the other domains.
  4. As an experimental suggestion, I wonder if we should organize the Christian academy around the conative domain rather than the cognitive domain. I will explore this idea more in another post.

Let us shape the whole person, not just 2/3 of a person in Christian education.

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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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