April 5, 2009

alternative education

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I've written before, that several of us in San Diego have been reflecting on what it would look like to provide an alternative form of theological development. One that is attainable and attractive to the many rather than the few. (TC Porter has even challenged Bethel Seminary San Diego to reconsider it's role in theological training.) As this conversation has gone on, a couple of books have come up that deal with different approaches to education. First is Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. When my housemate, Matt, read over what Allelon is doing with their training centers he encouraged me to read Freire. The recommendation has come from several others as well. You can read a segment of the book online here.The other recommendation has been Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society. You can read Illich's book online for free here. This book was recommended quite a bit when I asked what I should read by Illich. I started reading Deschooling Society last night when we got home late from my parents' and Matt was having trouble sleeping with a cough.  What stands out in chpt. 1 so far is this: The failure of contemporary education is that it commonly convinces us that learning it isolated to one environment: school. Disabling the public to discern learning opportunities within the other aspects of life. Illich writes, "Work, leisure, politics, city living, and even family life depend on schools for the habits and knowledge they presuppose, instead of becoming themselves the means of education." He is critiquing public education in the U.S. While I'm not yet convinced about the public school system, I certainly see the truth of this within theological training. We commonly have a limited imagination of how theology works with our everyday lives. It seems to me we are a missing a 'give-and-take' relationship betwen theology and context. Context should inform theology and theology should inform context. But our current tactics???from Sunday school to seminary???often do not provide the tools to do this. How might this change?

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