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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


KIENSTRA, Natascha. Theological contributions for teacherhood. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2019, vol.59, n.2, pp.203-215. ISSN 2224-7912.

A secondary school curriculum is not only about the content and the learning of the students, but also about the teacher behavior. I assess which contributions theological teacher models can make to education. To investigate this, I first study whether and how theological teacher models can be placed within recent scientific educational literature. Subsequently, I elaborate on the theological teacher models by considering the effectiveness of a discussion, as well as typical theological teacher guidance skills. The book Teacher models from Isaiah to Bioshock by Bart Koet and Archibald van Wieringen discusses, amongst others, the following theological teacher models: the book of Isaiah as a teacher, Socrates as a teacher, Ben Sira as a prime example of an interpreter of biblical wisdom, Jesus asking questions, the Torah against the background of family relationships, Augustine's vision on the transfer of knowledge and skills, The Dutch Cardinal Willebrands's learning through dialogue,1 and the game Bioshock as a teacher of virtues. I studied whether and how these theological teacher models can be placed within Pratt's five perspectives on teaching (transmission perspective, apprenticeship perspective, developmental perspective, nurturing perspective, and social reform). The five perspectives are used as ideal types, which are heuristic instruments that show how my observations exemplify a certain fixed pattern of thinking, understanding and action. The analysis below makes use of these five perspectives, where I do not intervene in the debate as to whether they exclude each other or overlap and what would be the most effective, best or any correct form of teacher or teaching. TRANSMISSION PERSPECTIVE: Ben Sira and the book of Isaiah With the Jewish teacher Ben Sira and in the book of Isaiah there is mainly a transmission of knowledge. Ben Sira with his writings can be seen as a memorable presenter of content in educating young people in the spirit of Jewish wisdom traditions. The Isaiah book shows two processes of learning: the first process gradually develops the material to be learned for the student, where the other confronts the student from the beginning with no introduction or summary, but with an open end. Especially the first, a more deductive learning process, can be understood from the perspective of knowledge transmission. APPRENTICESHIP PERSPECTIVE: Augustine As a teacher and preacher Augustine not only wanted to transmit knowledge, but he also wanted to contribute to a more existential (re)formation of his audience: for beginners he explains briefly and clearly matters of faith, to the advanced he speaks about the details, the ambiguities and open questions associated with the doctrine of faith. Therefore, with Augustine we find mainly the apprenticeship perspective. NURTURING PERSPECTIVE: the Talmud and the Dutch cardinal Willebrands In the Talmud there is much attention for teaching. The book deepens the teacher's appreciation against the background of family relationships. This is where the perspective of nurturing comes in. Cardinal Willebrands's approach was characterised by language awareness. He searched for "the language of the other". Willebrands wanted to listen to the others, to learn from the other and to enter into conversation without leaving behind his own identity. Social reform perspective: the Bioshock game In games like Bioshock the game is the teacher. This teacher stimulates the player to reflect on his/her moral choices and educates the player to practice virtuous behavior. This teacher model is mainly one of social reform. DEVELOPMENTAL PERSPECTIVE: Jesus and Socrates For Jesus, asking questions is a central activity. When students are asked questions about more complex forms of thinking, it is mainly the developmental perspective. Teacher is one of the most important titles of Jesus. Socrates is also known as a teacher who asks questions. In this questioning elenchus (refutation) and maieutiek (formation) are distinguished: the first is the destructive, critical part of thinking, aimed at undermining an incorrect opinion or thought; the second is constructive, aimed at forming a correct true opinion or a correct true judgment. Furthermore, I studied how to elaborate these theological teacher models by considering the effectiveness of a discussion, as well as typical theological teacher guidance skills. A more effective discussion In earlier research, doing philosophy at a higher level was found, first, in the presence of shared guidance of the discussion by the teacher and the students, and second, rather in a philosophical dialogue in the form of a discussion than in the form of classroom talk. Showing understanding, giving space and listening Earlier research also showed that the specific contribution of a more effective religious education and/or world view teacher is to show understanding, give space and listen. I conclude that this is close to Pratt's perspective of nurturing. This perspective of nurturing, trust, challenging and achievable goals, encouragement and clear expectations is for the time being the most extensive theological teacher model. Possibly this is in the heart of the matter of religious education and/or world view teachers. Witness and witnessing As Pollefeyt stated, a religious education and/or world view teacher is a witness, specialist and moderator. The teacher is a committed witness to his or her own world view, which has been obtained by himself or herself. However, the teacher is also a committed witness to the students' world view, where the students' world view will be obtained by the students themselves. I conclude that reflections about theological teacher models are worthwhile to present in education. It is important that teachers, partly thanks to these models, can show appropriate domain-specific teacher behavior at the right time, and with the right goal in mind. The value of the above elaboration does not have to be limited to secondary education, but is also valuable for lecturers at university level.

Keywords : Teacher; teaching; teacherhood; education; classroom; secondary school; learning; curriculum; student; theology; educational research; philosophy education; ethics education; religious education; worldview education; qualitative research; dialogue; discussion; socratic method.

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