If you haven’t read my first four posts in this series please see “#1, doctrine” ; “#2, faculty” ; #3, academic reputation ; #4, cost. Today I want to discuss pedagogy. Pedagogy is “the art, science, or profession of teaching “ or the philosophical presuppositions that inform how a teacher approaches their art.
There are two areas of pedagogy worth considering:
(1) Institutional values
(2) Classroom culture
A seminary may be a tad too conservative or progressive in your view, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t thrive there. I went to a seminary where I was not the “model student,” but I thrived and I maintained good relationships with my professors. How did this work? Well, the professors are committed to teaching students to think, not telling them what to think. Sure, they had their opinions. Yes, they had a lengthy “statement of faith” that they had to sign to teach. But I was never told what to think about various issues and I was never given a bad grade because the teacher disagreed with my views.
I know of some conservative seminaries (and I am sure there are some progressive ones like this) where there main goal is to impart an ideology. You do not have the freedom to disagree with professors on matters important to the institutions. I’m not saying that these institutions should not exist. I am saying you better be quite convinced that you are going to maintain the party line until graduation. It could cost you if you decide to change your mind on something.
Do you fall asleep during lectures or do you thrive during information dumps? Do you prefer to have the whole class involved in discussions or did you pay to hear the professor, not your peers? You need to reflect upon your own approach to learning when choosing a seminary.
How do you know what kind of classroom culture awaits you at seminary A, B, or C? Two ways: First, if you know alumni ask them. If you don’t, find some to contact. Second, visit the seminary. Most seminaries will host “campus visits” where you can visit a class or two. It will be a small sample but a small sample may be better than no sample.
What would you add to the discussion of pedagogy? Thoughts?