Further Miscellaneous Linkage

I’ve had a couple of items rattling around my newsreader for a while, so instead of waiting till I have a short essay to write about them, I’ll drop them off here. For instance, I enjoyed reading Malcolm Gladwell’s article on personality testing (though he left out the online personality quizzes that identify you as a breakfast cereal, a character from Gone With the Wind, a wavelength from the spectrum of light not visible to the naked eye, or a species of cat indigenous to Oceania and Australia).

Martin Ryder offers an helpful guide to different approaches to instructional design, and what to make of them. I get edgy when people present me with the One True Way to teach; I’m unmethodical enough that I tend to resist any claim that a single particular set of pedagogical premises and tactics will make me the best teacher I can be, wax my floors, and give my breath that minty, fresh aroma. That’s partly because it always hurts to become self-conscious and self-critical about one’s praxis (especially when one is slightly vain about that practice, as so many teachers tend to be, myself emphatically included), but also partly because I have seen too many circumstances in which the One True Pedagogy fails a student or two (or three or four), or where a middlin’ teacher adopts the One True Pedagogy in a mediocre way, or where teachers who’ve attained moderate comfort and competency and comfort teaching one way feel obliged to start over and work through years of discomfort and impaired competence in order to fulfill someone else’s sense of How Teaching Must Be Done. Add to that Seabury’s mixed environment of adult learners and young learners, of academically-ambitious and academically-modest, of graduates from classic liberal-arts programs and of community colleges, and the whole matter of pedagogy becomes (my students join in the chorus) more complicated than that. Working from Ryder’s page, one can see a tremendous variety of schools of pedagogy, their arguments against other such schools, and the contexts within which they make the most sense. I won’t be done reading this one for ages, if ever. In connection to this, George Siemens proposes the pedagogy beyond Constructivism, which he calls “connectivism,” so if you want to push avant the avant garde in the theological education, this may be the path. (I must have gotten both of those from Stephen Downes’s blog, but I don’t remember when.)

Most important — and I say this with some discomfort — I met Evelyn Rodriguez at Digital ID World (I had thought we met at BloggerCon I, on the evening that I introduced Wendy to Joey); we had a short conversation about my vocation and hers. She was vacationing in Thailand two weeks ago, where she was caught up in the tsunami. As subsequent posts reveal, she’s doing all right. I’ve kept quiet about the cataclysm; I doubt that I can add anything to what wiser people have said, and I know that enough people have said foolish things. But it has felt odd, all along, trying to figure out what not-saying meant, as I knew somebody who was so directly affected, and that my thoughts about a disaster focused so narrowly on one person.

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