Margaret and I have home-schooled the three kids we raised, partly on the basis of our commitment to their very distinct patterns of learning and interest, partly out of frustrating experiences in our own educational history, and partly from the conviction that they would learn well on their own terms, at their own time, what they really wanted to learn (and wouldn’t learn well what we tried to induce them to learn on our terms, at a time we chose). Our experience as learners, and our experience as home-school parents (“un-school” parents, to be more exact), places me squarely on the un-structured side of the discussion with Maggi and Rachelle and others. I wish there were some way I could choose to home-school the seminarians at Seabury.
If one were not going to junk the whole notion of “classes” and “degrees” (and I’m not unsympathetic with the temptation to dispence with them), I’d probably suggest that each area of the curriculum, or each professor, schedule one series of lectures to introduce the areas for which she or he is responsible. After that, students would have the responsibility of pursuing such independent studies and organizing such seminars in consultation with the relevant faculty as would prepare the students for their various ministries.
Seabury’s reviewing and revising its curriculum in conjunction with our upcoming shift to semesters; I’ll be pushing gently for as few requirements as possible, and as many electives as possible. Maybe one way to administer such a program, given Seabury’s student population and the size of the faculty, would be to allot each full-time faculty member one required course, two elective courses, and one advanced seminar each year. That would entail radically re-envisioning some areas of the curriculum (that operate with a fairly rigid sequence of required courses), but a more open curriculum would facilitate our cooperation with other seminaries (students often transfer into Seabury with credits that don’t match our curriculum at all), would benefit students by treating them as real adult learners, and would offer faculty the opportunity to teach students who’ve chosen to learn in a given area.
In most respects, I’m with Doc on education: The more formalized the process, the less education is happening, and the more we’re selling short our birthright of curiosity and ingenuity in order to cash in the mess of pottage of quantifiable outcomes. (Sorry for the brutally mixed metaphor.)