The Wabash Center's Dialogue On Teaching

The Wabash Center's Dialogue On Teaching

Dialogue on Teaching, hosted by Nancy Lynne Westfield, Ph.D., is the monthly podcast of The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. Amplifying the Wabash Center’s mission, the podcast focuses upon issues of teaching and learning in theology and religion within colleges, universities and seminaries. The podcast series will feature dialogues with faculty teaching in a wide range of institutional contexts. The conversation will illumine the teaching life.Webinar Producer: Rachel Mills Sound Engineer: Dr. Paul O. Myhre Original Podcast music by Dr. Paul O. Myhre

Episodes

May 17, 2022 45 min

Does the church want theologically educated leadership? What kind of learning is needed now for effective ministry? In what ways can the seminary benefit from the knowledge production of the church? What if this is a moment of great capacity and great opportunity – but it is being squandered by the church and theological education!

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Who has the boldness to reinvent (rather than adapt) the seminary? What kinds of spaces will be needed for the learning experience? Perhaps, we need assistance from artists who are world builders and imagineers? What if … we convene to dream a new way, with new collaborators?

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What do we ask our students to risk when we refuse the pretentions of expertise? What if the uncanny things which occur in our classrooms are the refiner’s fire changing us, student and teacher alike? If we would allow ourselves the joy of astonishment, would we teach with more depth? What are the new habitations for theology which will be lifegiving, life-affirming and meant for human thriving?

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Demystifying the voluntary, non-voluntary, peer process. How do you know when good decisions are made and how blunders are corrected? What about learning outcomes? Before joining a faculty, read the accreditation report. 

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Spring of 2022 is proving to be a difficult semester. Increasingly, students exemplify behaviors of distress. Faculty are ill-equipped to meet needs of strained students while they themselves are struggling. Perhaps vocational dexterity will provide some new strategies.

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The institutional step after grappling to become anti-racist is to move toward communal thriving. A sign of hope, impact and accomplishment is when students hold faculty and administration accountable. Thriving in covid requires communal care and change.

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Classroom lessons cannot be reduced to benign, disembodied facts. Teaching must acknowledge cultural complexity, the lack of truth telling and embrace the trouble likely to be stirred up in and beyond the classroom. Teach to stretch our own imaginations. Inclusion must include change, shifts in power and new methods of teaching.

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The complexity of this era requires leadership who are passionately willing to live in the ambiguity, uncertainty, and still make progress. Institutions must find ways to enable, empower, and inspire leaders for work in the middle of the muddle.

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Recreating education during the prolonged pandemic takes more than the choice between face-to-face or online courses. Issues such as public health concerns, diversity-equity-inclusion, digital mindsets, and the downward spiral of denominational structures requires educational leaders to employ design theory, skills, and practices. How do we create optimal learning environments, right now and into the future?  

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Imagine classroom laboratories that move from the presumptive geo-physical context and digitally connect students located across more than fifteen time zones. Imagine hard conversations across mutual registers that nurture the ability to interrogate local, national, and international reality as the cornerstone of theological education. The digital interface created by global networks of online learners is reshaping, reforming, and ...

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Convening colleagues for regular conversation to dream, think, confess, learn and celebrate teaching and the teaching life can improve individual efforts and strengthen the overall teaching community. Nurturing the curiosity for such questions as: who is the self who teaches?; what does it mean to teach in Covid?; what can we learn from folks like bell hooks? – can provide excellent formation for faculty. Mutual discussions helps t...

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The racial/cultural identity of teachers contributes to the formation, influence and dynamics of student learning. Given the climate of the national discourse on issues of race, racism, inclusion, and xenophobia, classrooms can become places where intercultural dynamics can be unpacked and relearned.

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Fundamental influences upon theological education are the shape of higher education, the cultural pulse of society, and the religious practices of the people whose leadership is seminary trained. How might consideration of these variables assist with reimaging theological education? What if diversity is the bedrock of the future of theological education? 

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Seasons of a Teaching Career

Series One is entitled Exploring Early Career Issues. The featured speakers of this video series are Leah Payne (Portland Seminary, George Fox University), Roger Nam (Candler School of Theology, Emory University) and Nancy Lynne Westfield (The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion).

Common sense conversations meant to provide perspective, inspire, and encourage colleagues who ar...

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Rather than repeating sounds made long ago by those who mastered academic fields, what must we now do to produce new knowledges? From where will our confidence and agency come to create ways of knowing fashioned for the complexity of pluralism? What new stories will we metabolize for the better formation and preparation of students? How do we teach differently than we were taught?

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Being a critical reflective teacher means grappling with our own miseducation. Colleagues who have been proactive about the necessity of aligning teaching content, institutional mission and values with teaching approaches and methods share their strategies. If teaching is not politically neutral, then what practices can we employ to lessen the oppression and violence in our classrooms?

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Personal reflection on issues of prejudice, bias, and cultural insensitivity is key to improving teaching. At any season of the teaching career new considerations for equity is possible. This conversation with the author of White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America challenges our vocational, curricular, and personal conventions and suggests resources for social justice standards in teaching.

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Decolonizing teaching is an experiment in synergism. In developing new pedagogies, we can only guarantee crisis – crisis to reconstruct identities of the teacher and the learner, alike. What would it be to teach in a way that taboos, barriers and boundaries become meeting places? How will we learn to collaborate, build coalitions, and create partnerships for new epistemologies? 

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During the extended pandemic students are voicing discontent with courses which inadequately relate to minoritized views. Students are impatient when classrooms, yet and still, do not take seriously the complexity of all students’ experience. This is a moment, if we can seize it, to learn to open classrooms  to practices of collaboration, partnership and coalition building to teach with our students rather than at our students.

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Academic fields change when the teachers are people who have not previously taught in that field and when we resist the colonial presumptions built into the field. What does it mean to re-train, re-learn, re-educate ourselves to teach toward a decolonized mindset? In what ways might intersectionality be embodied in our teaching? What are pedagogies by emerging scholars and how are they grappling with the identity politics of the ac...

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