Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Available to Teach in English and Français

A fulltime US seminary teacher is available to serve in a needy part of the world during the northern hemisphere summer.

He has one or two engagements that include speaking at a Youth Conference but he is available for a 2-4 week period in the summer season—from the beginning of May to the end of August 2009.

This teacher has versatility in teaching but his current teaching areas include N.T. Survey, Systematic Theology, and Hermeneutics.

His first language is English but he also has fluency in French.

To learn more about this teacher, to indicate an interest or to be put in touch with him please send me a letter at my email address: geoffpound[@]

Dr Geoff Pound

Photo: Courtesy of Google images.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And He Said to Them a Third Time…

This note and need has been posted before.

A request has been received from a seminary in Myanmar where they would like a teacher to come in or around the month of November this year.

The dates and length of time are negotiable but the months between October and March are the better ones for visiting this country.

The request is to teach a course on the Church (especially how new ones are established and nurtured) or Christian Leadership or Pastoral Care.

This seminary is in a country that is cut off from much of the world. There is a longing and great enthusiasm for an international teacher to visit them for a short term.

Do let me know if you are interested in exploring this possibility or you have some questions.

Dr Geoff Pound, Coordinator, TWB.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Theological Study and Team-Based Learning

Following our interesting series on Creativity in Theological Education, Dr Alex Tang, Consultant Paediatrician at Johor Specialist Hospital in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, who also serves as Director of the Spiritual Formation Institute and Director of Kairos Spiritual Formation Ministries is raising questions about the worth of Team-Based Learning (TBL) as a pedagogy in theological education. His summary of TBL:

Team learning or team-based learning (TBL) is a well-defined instructional strategy developed by Dr. Larry K. Michaelsen that is now being used successfully in medical education.

The TBL method allows a single instructor to teach through conducting multiple small groups simultaneously in the same classroom.

Learners must actively participate in and out of class through preparation and group discussion. Class time is shifted away from learning facts and toward application and integration of information. The instructor retains control of content, and acts as both facilitator and content expert. The team learning method affords the opportunity for assessment of both individual and team performance.

As an instructional method, team learning consists of repeating sequences of 3 phases:

In Phase 1, learners study independently outside of class to master identified objectives.

In Phase 2, individual learners complete a multiple-choice exam to assure their readiness to apply Phase 1 knowledge. Groups of 6-7 learners then re-take this exam and turn in their consensus answers for immediate scoring and posting.

In Phase 3, which may last several class periods, groups complete in-class assignments that promote collaboration, use of Phase 1 and 2 knowledge, and identification of learning deficiencies. At designated times, all groups simultaneously share their groups' answers with the entire class for easy comparison and immediate feedback. This stimulates an energetic total-class discussion with groups defending their answers and the teacher helping to consolidate learning.

TBL stresses the importance of a priori, out-of-class learning based on clear learning objectives. It emphasizes the importance of holding learners accountable for attending class prepared to participate, and provides guidelines for designing group learning tasks to maximize participation.
TBL emphasizes three keys to effective active learning:
* Individual and group accountability
* Need and opportunity for group interaction
* Motivation to engage in give-and-take discussion.

In medical education, team learning has been successfully used in preclinical, clinical, residency, fellowship, and CME venues and in interdisciplinary settings.

Two useful articles on TBL
Three Keys to Using Learning Groups Effectively
Team Learning: Putting sTEAM into Learning Groups

TBL, Theological Education and TBL
Have any in theological education directly applied TBL practice or anything like this? Any comments on its value and drawbacks as applied to theological education.

Thanks Alex for asking the question and raising the matter.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dr. Larry K. Michaelsen

JT on Short Term Mission Assignments

JT is an Australian who has served as a pastor and theological teacher. She is now spending much of the year freelancing as a seminary teacher. J is recently back in Oz from assignments in many countries. The following is a reflection on her travels so far this year:

Mission or Tourism?
A web magazine article a few months ago provocatively asked if short mission trips were really just tourism opportunities. It turned out to be a promotion for a useful training video for church mission trips, but given my life at the moment is a series of short “mission trips”, it got my attention. Are teaching contributions of a week or two or a semester such as Theologians Without Borders makes possible of value to the recipients? (There is no doubt about their value to the givers.)

On a recent short visit to XYZ I was caught up in fighting and it was noticeable that while the NGO staffs had been flown out of the area on the advice of the UN, the long term missionaries had stayed at their posts. They were a small but noticeable part of a dramatic prayer meeting called by the combined local churches to beseech God about the deteriorating situation. Their solidarity and steadfastness spoke volumes. It emphasised the importance of incarnational service offered by those who like their Master “pitch their tents” in the two thirds world.

I however was a short-termer, and more than anxious to get on the first plane leaving when the airport re-opened. I was a liability rather than an asset, and besides, I had appointments elsewhere! Yet in this calendar year as I re-visit the conferences and theological colleges where I taught last year, I have had confirmed again how much isolated Christians appreciate appropriate short term contributions. I and others like me represent the outside world with all our contacts and prayer partners and resources - an expression of the fellowship we have in Christ. Even when I have suggested that the cost of my fares might be better spent in the local community, those issuing the invitation have affirmed how important it is to them to be connected to the wider world and feel part of the greater communion of saints.

Returning to Deepen Friendship & Knowledge
Going back a second and third time to the same college or group of people helps to compensate to some degree for my lack of knowledge of local culture and issues, and means they and I know what to expect of each other. It makes the experience is so much deeper and less like a tourist junket. And short targeted contributions certainly tackle the aid dependency that is stifling initiative in many of the more disrupted societies and churches.

Offering Specialized Input
Would it be better for my husband and me to spend the last 20 years of our lives implanted in a community and becoming part of it? That has great advantages and would be right for some folk. However, we have come to see that for us, the skills we have to offer are at a different level – more specialised and perhaps therefore more transferrable. Though in teaching pastoral theology (my specialty) I am acutely aware of the need for cultural sensitivity, I also have the experience of many years in pastoral ministry, living in many different countries and crossing many boundaries. (Wisdom is hopefully one of the compensations for being old!)

Mission, Travel and Pilgrimage
And we believe that God uses all that we are and have been in this work, including our love of travel. Writing in Scripture Union’s Encounter With God notes on Hebrews 11 recently, Whitney Kuniholm warned: ‘Sometimes we may think that living by faith is some kind of Star Trek adventure where we “boldly go where no man has gone before”. Perhaps. But more likely it means that we do what God says, one step at a time.’ But one step at a time is quite an adventure for us at the moment, and when I get over the stomach bug I’ve picked up in STU, I’ll be ready for the next assignment!

Grateful thanks to J for this reflection on the value of short-term assignments. J and I will be interested to receive your comments, supportive or otherwise.

Dr. Geoff Pound
Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders.

Friday, April 3, 2009

President Barack Obama and Theologians Without Borders

Barack Obama, in his "town hall'' brand of public dialog to a European stage today, in Strasbourg, France, said some things that had relevance to Theologians Without Borders.

He did not refer specifically to TWB but he did cite Doctors Without Borders as an example of the type of service that he was seeking to encourage his youthful European audience to get involved with.

Setting the Scene
Obama was asked questions about American foreign and domestic policy but some of the most interesting and pointed questions were very personal. A young woman wanted to know about the president's approach to the world economic crisis, but also about that dog, the White House pup that Obama has promised his kids.

"Did you ever regret to run for president?' a young woman from Germany asked.

Cost of Public Service
After speaking candidly about the way the presidential campaign took him away from his family and the cost of public life to his personal freedom and anonymity he made these fascinating statements about service and voluntarism.

Nothing More Noble
"Having said all that, I truly believe that there's nothing more noble than public service. Now, that doesn't mean that you have to run for president. (Applause.) But, you know, you might -- you know, you might work for Doctors Without Borders, or you might volunteer for an agency, or you might, you know, be somebody working for the United Nations, or you might be the mayor of Strasbourg.

Right? I mean, they're all -- (cheers, applause) -- you might volunteer in your own community.

If You Only Think About Yourself
But the point is that what I found at a very young age was that if you only think about yourself -- how much money can I make; what can I buy; you know, how nice is my house; what kind of fancy car do I have -- that over the long term, you -- I think you get bored. (Applause.) I think your life -- I think your life becomes -- I think if you're only thinking about yourself, your life becomes diminished and -- and that the way to live a full life is to think about, what can I do for others? How can I be a part of this larger project of making a better world? Now, that can be something as simple as making -- of -- as the joy of taking care of your family and watching your children grow and -- and succeed.

But I think especially for the young people here, I hope you also consider other ways that you can serve, because the world has so many challenges right now. There are so many opportunities to make a difference. And it would be a tragedy if all of you who are so talented and energetic, if you let that go to waste, if you just stood back and -- and watched the world pass you by.

Better to jump in, get involved. And it does mean that sometimes you'll get criticized, and sometimes you'll fail, and sometimes you'll be disappointed. But you'll have a great adventure, and at the end of your life, hopefully you'll be able to look back and say, "I made a difference."

Source and the entire script: Obama Holds Town Hall in Strasbourg, France, The Washington Post, April 3, 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: President Obama on Friday spoke at a town hall meeting in Strasbourg, France, on the eve of a NATO meeting.