Do you plan in advance how I will do it for receiving airplanes / drinks / parent meetings? Question: "So, what do you do?" I teach theology and church history. Experience has taught me that telling a stranger I teach is a conversation killer. I usually stick to "history professor," but even that reaction often triggers the revelation of a profound aversion to the story. This is often a remnant of a high school class that focused on memorizing and repeating facts and data. D. H. Poor pedagogy.
This is definitely not a problem in my lessons. For me, good history education focuses on the "why" and the "how" of past events, especially the reasons for change over time. My class does not focus exactly on that when Aristotelian thought collided with Christian theology. Instead, we discuss "What was the result?"
However, in recent years, I have found that my pedagogy did a disservice to students by minimizing time frames and data. The precious teaching time was spent for great historical changes and theological developments, but the fine details were omitted. For example, the Council of Nicaea is a turning point in the history of the church, a point of contact between the institutional church and the secular authorities. The students learn to give an overview of how the early church has fluctuated from one major council to another and what the main results were. They can even articulate great theological issues. However, when the students were asked "how and why we theologically reached a point where a Roman emperor felt the need to convene a church council," the thought twisted. They could not provide a chronology that goes beyond some notable developments. But the chronology to and from Nicaea is really important to understand how important historical figures dealt with and fought theological nuances. Who was banished for his theology, and when, is really important.
To improve student learning in theology and history, I introduced a digital tool. Vismeserves as a timeline and infographic. For some reading jobs, students had to create a theme-based graphic, such as B. synods in the Frankish church or the text evidence for the filioque, I asked them to imagine the graphics as a tool to teach someone else a new topic. Visme is intuitive and visually attractive and has the pedagogical advantage of requiring students to make decisions at multiple levels to tell an effective story. For example, if the infographic template contains only ten entries, students must carefully select how markers (such as an event or the creation of an idea) are to be succinct headings (for example, a word, name, or phrase ) can continue to move the story. When students write short headline content, they need to re-choose what's most relevant to the headline-and the story as a whole. The failure to create entries that are similar in style affects the content and the timeline altogether and forces the reader / viewer to work harder to understand what is most relevant.
A small pedagogical change, such as the introduction of a digital tool, can pay off, but is fraught with challenges. Colleagues from other disciplines had assured me that the integration of digital media into a humanities course would be seamless. After all, our students are digital natives. It turns out, however, that a surprising number could still proclaim, "I'm not really good with technology." When asked to respond, some students said they spend too much time looking at the infographic and not enough with it Have spent content. Overall, they found the exercises helpful. Knowing that they would create a timeline helped them focus on reading and taking notes.
Ultimately, theological ideas do not float in the air and are absorbed. Rather, they are passed on from person to person (or even person to person to person). The understanding of grace of St. Augustine, for example, did not spread abstractly. It was passed down from one church to another through tracts and personal conversations and in synods. Theologically important conflicts arose between people who held certain positions and took discrete measures, all evolving over time. Even the exegesis of a theological text unfolds one after the other. What I have learned, by spending more time on chronology and using a digital tool as part of my pedagogy, is that student learning has really improved, especially with regard to their understanding of historical and theological contexts. In the end, it made them think about how their learning could influence their future teachings.
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