08 February 2012

Theological Education Schematics

I've been receiving religious instruction since I was three years old.  I'm now twenty-seven years.  Thus far, I've identified what I think to be three models of religious instruction.  The below configuration is not exclusive, as there may be other means of education that I have neither experienced nor remembered.  Also, the models presented in this schema are not rigid; that is to say, one model may bleed into another at a time.  I intend the models to be heuristic.  They do not, in of themselves, connote positive or negative values as such.  At one time or another, one model may be more appropriate than others, yet standing alone, with all things being equal, one does not possess greater or lesser value than another.

Model #1: Catechetical
This model is perhaps the most simple.  It relies upon a dissemination of information from one subject to another, usually taking the form of a teacher articulating facts in the presence of students.  The students are judged through tests which measure whether or not they have assimilated what is considered to be the minimum amount of material necessary deemed for competence.

Model #2: Speculative
This model is perhaps the most fluid.  It assumes that certain basic catechetical standards have been met.  Speculative theology as a teaching tool is based largely in induction.  It takes experiential knowledge or theological principles and submits them to an entire series of speculations.  It is the most value neutral of the models in actual practice, since there is little control over the conclusions to be reached.  This type of instruction is primarily concerned with concepts and methods such that these are the entry points into insight.

Model #3: Socialization
This model might be considered a hybrid of the first two.  It brings the facts of a particular subject to bear in such a way that consensus on a model, sometimes preconceived, is reached.  The goals of this educational model are three-fold: 1) there is a transmission of facts and/or principles, conceived or presented in a repeated pattern by the instructor; 2) these same facts are arranged in such a manner as to achieve a desired result: bringing the learning subject into a "community" of sorts that collectively holds these agreed upon truths and thus acts upon other ideas accordingly; 3) the learning subject gains the ability to use the set of facts learned in order to pursue speculative theology in an effort to discover further information which matches with the facts or principles taught (1) and the conclusions desired in (2).  Failure to do so requires an reworking of the previously agreed upon facts and/or principles.

That's what I have so far.  Discussion and comments welcome.  I'm sure that this is only a start, and thus highly incomplete.  In other words, I invite the hounds of Model #2 to be released on the above material.


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