One of the most difficult things lecturers need to learn is that teaching is not learning. Just because I taught you something does not mean you as a student have learnt it. Actually this is probably a good lesson for all of life but that is another days topic. L Dee Fink’s Creating Significant Learning Experiences challenges teaching staff on how to create or design a college course that encourages learning.

In chapter 1 Fink sets the scene using evidence of the poor learning that is occurring in many US and UK colleges. It also states that lecturing is not a good way to encourage learning. This generates concerns for faculty, students and the public.

The solution according to Fink is to create significant learning experiences. These experiences have students engaged in the process and classes are high energy. [Ok at this point I am convicted for tomorrow’s lecture and have just changed some things]. The impact is significant and lasting change. I think many preachers need to hear this as well.

This moves to an understanding of new kinds of learning – Industrial age to Information age paradigms are examined. I am particularly intrigued by this as I think of the history of preaching and wonder how long it took Peter or Stephen to preach in the New Testament. Maybe less is more. From this Fink gives an overview of the new forms of teaching.

In the end the proposal is to redesign – sounds familiar eh? The way to fix things is to do it differently.

Now I could put on either hat here the academic or the ecclesiologist. Both groups academics and church leaders are being told the same thing – we must change – but it does not mean throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It means making conscious decisions as to what we accept or reject.

I am going to quote and then paraphrase a comment that reflects where I am at in reading this:

We won’t meet the needs for more and better higher education until professors become designers of learning experiences and not teachers. (Spence in Fink 2003:1)

And my paraphrase:

We won’t meet the needs for more and better discipleship until church leaders become designers of discipling experiences and not preachers.

So can we improve?

p.s. My original paraphrase has been changed I orignally said “learning experiences” on reflection I really do want to say “discipling experiences”