Teaching Troublemakers: Experiential Learning in Christian Higher Education
Journal of Faith and the Academy, Vol. 1, No. 61, Fall 2008
23 Pages Posted: 16 May 2009
Date Written: Fall 2008
In Christian universities, leaders, teachers and students expend great energy to discern the purpose and place of Christian higher education. Christian schools seek a path of academic and intellectual rigor while hoping to secure a peculiar identity and mission. Christian educators work to prepare students who are useful when they graduate, who effect transformation in their communities and professions, who will contribute to kingdom life for the glory of God. If pedagogy is to square with this purpose of Christian education, Christian teachers should consider direct application of their doctrine to the students’ vocation. Students should acquire more than a well intentioned, theoretical understanding of their discipline. Rather, students should graduate with a seasoned respect for work in the marketplace, with experience among those at the margins of society, with engagement in their communities and a taste of effective service in the world. Service learning pedagogy affords a powerful means of grounding students’ theoretic notions in the “real world” and in the reality of oppressed or impoverished people. Teachers can provide students with transformational experiences that center their learning on practical problems and actual neighbors with the hope that the students leave better equipped to fulfill their kingdom missions. This paper includes a survey of service learning virtues and pedagogy, a closer examination of clinical legal education at the Jones School of Law and a thorough discussion of service learning through community education. Community education initiatives are uniquely fruitful forms of service learning that can fulfill the great objectives of service learning: transformational student experience and effective contribution to the public interest.
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