Ok, this chapter of Creating Significant Learning Experiences wins an award for quoting Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi.  Just having to spell that name out multiple times got points in my thinking.  But seriously the integration ideas discussed in this chapter is based in Czikszentmihalyi’s ideas of flow.  Of being in the right zone “the flow” where skills and challenges are at the right level, not too low for apathy, too unskilled for anxiety or too lowly challenged to be boring.  How many pastors sermons need to recognise they need to be pitched at the right level to get people to do them?

This chapter feels like it rushes steps 9-12 of the Integrated Course Design process but spends a healthy time on building the course as an integrated whole in steps 4-8.  Here Fink I think is in his element.  He works out how courses should be integrated with a series of different learning techniques and ways to grow and structure activities so that people invest themselves in them.  It is this chapter that I like most in the book and use the least.  Which explains one of the quotes that I really like is: “An important benefit of using such a worksheet is that it helps the course designer avoid the easy trap of giving lip service to important learning goals but then going about teaching in a way that does not really support those learning goals.” (Fink 2003:126)  It is so easy for us to read and not do.  A comment which the book of James reminds us of as well.

Re-reading this makes me aware of what I need to do for next semester and figure out how to make one of my history classes not just chalk-and-talk but to make it important.  I also see a larger purpose for some of this which is to simplify some of the units I teach in theory and then be quite explicit in a syllabi about the expectations I have.  The issue is that students should be assessed on the essentials and then my interpretation of the unit is left to me to flesh out.  This gives the flexibility of a lecturer making a unit their own without taking it away from the accrediting bodies at the same time.

So how does this relate to church?  Do we provide discipleship activities that are integrated?  Activities that make people want to learn more?  Does a class on “A Dynamic Spiritual Walk” about Spiritual Warfare and walking in the Spirit give enough activities that are grounded in reality rather than have people come because they are intellectually curious?  Curiosity will not change people in and of itself but a process of discipleship should.