Of Teaching and Learning

Over the past two weeks, I was invited to attend a block class on "Learning to Teach." After two weeks of class, here are some reflections that I have.

We thank God Bro Casey is a pretty humane teacher... :P 
Firstly, teaching needs to meet the changing challenges of the 21st century. This is especially pertinent with all the advancements in technology as well as the worldview changes with the generation today. There is simply no room for the teacher to remain stagnant and not be able to keep up with times so as to engage their students and to facilitate learning. Applying to theological education and Bible school, we have to consider what kind of ministers we are training for the churches in the 21st century. If we are training ministers who are able to engage today’s generation, then we need to review the current methods of teaching and train ministers to be savvy in social media and technology and be able to make use of them in their ministries. Reflecting back on the learning experience I had previously when I was in NUS, I realised that I learned more in modules where I was forced to do discussions over forums and social media. I have also seen how other churches and seminaries have successfully utilized the internet such as iTune U and Youtube to create alternative learning environments for their students and members. In view of this, there is a lot that we can do in theological education to help our peers and students to reach out to a generation that is so connected over the internet. For me, it is a matter of how I am going to engage my students in the future to ensure that what I am doing continue to remain relevant to them and their learning.

You just have to keep up with time...
Secondly, the teacher is not defined by his qualification. It is very easy for one to think that once he gets his ‘PhD,’ he will be ready to teach. But I learned from the class that this is often not the case. Going through this class, I realised that there are so many techniques and tools that the teacher can utilize to make learning happen. Having the content knowledge and paper qualification are merely the first steps towards teaching and learning. For example, the teaching does not need to come solely in the form of transmission but the teacher can also teach through cooperative learning and problem-based learning, as taught in class and mentioned in our textbook. This also means that, as a teacher, we need to be open to adjust our teaching methods to suit the needs of the students. We have to be good host and be able to provide for the students, as well as protect them and support them all the way in their journey. This is very thought-intriguing for me. It has been very easy for me to do teaching through transmission and direct instruction, since this is the way that I have experienced education for most part of my life before university. All I need to do is to imitate what I saw from the teachers who have taught me and replicate the teaching methods in the settings that I am teaching in. However, if qualification is not everything, and the teacher will still need to be in touch with various teaching techniques, this means that I need to be more reflective and intentional in how I design my teaching in the future so as to meet the learning needs of my students.


Lastly, pertaining to teaching, this course has acted as a further stimulus to challenge me in my calling to teach. Over the past year, I have observed that God seems to be moving me towards the area of teaching. Being invited to this class seems to confirm that observation. Throughout the whole class, I asked myself what is going to happen to my future ministry and how will my own teaching ministry look like. Even in my lifegroup, my members have been confirming with me that I seem to be demonstrating the gift of teaching. But yet the requirement in the ministry of teaching is high, for those who teach will be judged more strictly. The lesson on hospitality was particularly an eye-opener, challenging me to practice hospitality in my teaching. This shows to me that I have a lot to learn in this journey. Hence I realised that I am not really a 'finished product' and everyday, as I continue to be molded by God to be a godly teacher, I am also relying on His grace to drive me to live a life of holiness so that my life can be consistent with my teachings, lest I end up like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction:
Not only quoting wrongly the Scripture but also doing a lot of killing...
Till the next time I write, I shall now go on to my classmates' blog and comment on them.


Comments

  1. Haha... Love the memes! Especially the cher one.. *hint hint*

    I agree with you that teachers do need to embrace new ways of teaching. There's been such great advances in education that if we continue with the old methods, we'll not connect with others. I was surprised by the volume of research going on in this area when researching for the group project. I feel the challenge is for teachers to use the techniques appropriately in their context and not just applying it indiscriminately.

    As for your reflection on your teaching gift, i'm encouraged by your attitude. I believe your keen mind, honest perspectives and relevancy will bless the body of Christ in this area.

    Press on!

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    1. Yeah... I was working on the blog and decided to add a few pictures... then the memes just started forming in my mind.

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  2. You are right to say there is simply no room for the teacher to remain stagnant, and this does not just pertain to technology but also in techniques and delivery skillsets. On a separate note, thanks for sharing so many sources with us, it's a first step to helping us all become better teachers.

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  3. So glad to hear of your calling to teach Matthias! The Lord knows we are in need of good solid biblical teachers who are able and willing to take on the challenge to build up the next generation. I agree that we do need to keep abreast of new technology and continually upgrade our skills to remain effective and relevant in today's society. Look at where the printed bible is going today. You hardly see it in churches anymore! Thanks for the resources as well!

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    1. Jen, I think the printed bible still has its place, but indeed, people are sticking more to electronic bible. Thinking about it, most of my bible study resources can be found on my iPad...

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  4. Thank you for sharing all your resources on edmodo with us. It has been a very refreshing experience for me having not been in a module for some time now. In reference to qualifications, i believe that it is truly the beginning of the journey once we have received the 'papers'. The real training starts when we have to get out there to apply it. I am glad we are being challenged to be teachers that make that difference. Yes keeping up with technology and our skill set does matter. While Jesus never changes, our audience, learners do. We need to remain on the cutting edge.

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  5. hi matt, thanks for your sharing. if i may add on to your point 2 about qualifications and hospitality education, i have learn that teaching is not the same as learning. A teacher can finish teaching but his students have not learnt. As Israel Galindo mentioned in his book, The Craft of Christian Teaching (available in ACTS library), "a teacher cannot teach his students anything" (so much so for those of us who aspire to teach). What this statement imply is that a teacher cannot teach his students anything when the student does not want to learn. This would be especially important when we are working with adults, who have a tendency to "zone out and log off" in class, giving a false impression of having learnt, and a misplaced sense of accomplishment on the part of the teacher. That's why the book encouraged teachers to focus on the learning aspect, rather than on the teaching. This implies the importance of teachers' acquisition of skills like motivation (ARCS model), lesson pacing, cooperative learning, hospitality education and such. May you continue to bear fruits for Jesus in your journey :)

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    1. I think perhaps that's why we learn that there is no teaching if there is no learning. It is more important to facilitate learning rather than just doing content downloading.

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  6. Thanks Matthias for your sharing. I agree with you that it important remain relevant not just in terms of techinical skills but also keeping up with the various ethicial / moral issues facing the Church today. Speaking of which, the hospitality teaching shows that soft skills are also very important in opening the way for learning and teaching. I pray that you will continue to challenge yourself in all these aspects to win more for Christ!

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    1. Interesting. Just a few days ago, I learned from a talk I was hosting that in leadership, soft skill matters more than the technical competencies the higher we go. Hence, in the context of teaching, technical competencies may only bring us to a certain point but we still need the soft skills to ensure classroom learning.

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    2. Not all PHD holders can teach. Likewise, not all experts in their fields can teach too. I'm in the media industry. A training partner I work with remarks that many senior media folks think they can teach just because they have a wealth of experience. But truth be told. Some mumble, some are lost. But most of them lack the 'techniques and tools to make learning happen.' Even though they score in the experience department, most of them can't hold a class' interest for long. Mind you, they come with impressive presentations and slides and use the latest TECHnology but still...yes, soft skills are a must.

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  7. Upcoming teacher, you are still young, will have plenty of opportunity to polish and perfect your teaching skill, you will get to enjoy and over your calling more and more each day. Let the river of life in you overflows to impact your students.

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