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Entries in Seminary Notes (87)

Saturday
Mar212015

Seminary Notes - Day 2

I intended to share what happened at seminary yesterday once I got home, ate dinner, and relaxed, but my brain was pretty worn out. If I didn't know I'm a morning person before this class began, I would know now. In the afternoon, after 2:00, we were working silently on developing observation, interpretation, and correlation questions for two passages, James 1:1-18, and Mark 5:21-43. After that, we were to be ordering them in a flow which would direct the lesson. I really find mid afternoon is not my favourite time for such concentrated work, and I really struggled to focus. Fortunately, these are not due for a while.

Creating bible study material is a writing exercise as well as a study exercise. It means knowing how to communicate questions in a way that will generate deeper thinking, and without giving the student the answer. The student needs to work for an answer. I was taught once that when I organize discussion questions, I ought to ask it in a way that the answer is obvious, and the student feels a measure of success. That worked with homeschooling, but for students of the bible, it does tend to make it too easy. Certainly, for beginners, we may want to approach it in that way, but for a keen student of the bible, they ought to be directed back to the text. That is what we have been doing for the past two days: looking at the text. 

One of the things I enjoyed yesterday was when we were able to share some of our questions with the person next to us, and hear theirs. Corporate study is always so helpful. Later, we shared some of our questions from the Mark passage (the healing of Jairus's daughter) and some of the correlation questions were so good. One of the goals is this study, which we're going to be looking at today, is the benefit of producing curriculum as a team. I'm interested to see how that will work. We will also be learning how to evaluate a published bible study. We had to purchase three for the course, and we've been invited to bring some if we have them. I'm bringing Keri Folmar's study on Philippians, because I think that will fall under the "good study" category.

The prof's co-teacher talked a bit about writing struggles and how we can overcome those, and as she shared some of those struggles, I could nod in understanding from my own writing of my blog. It's a different kind of writing, but the struggles are still the same. It's nice to know that we all have writing struggles now and then.

Today is the last day until April 18th, and there two assignments due in between today and then. After April 18, there are two more assignments due. I have really benefitted from spending time with other bible teachers, but I will be glad not to be away from 7:30 until 6:00 p.m. I am ignoring the fact that I have to prepare a lesson for Tuesday's young mom's bible study. Fortunately, I had the foresight to make arrangements for my Sunday school class for tomorrow. However, when I start teaching from Ephesians 5, I'll be utilizing some of my new found knowledge.

One of the women in the class who is about to graduate (this elective is her last class) had done very little of this kind of study. It just goes to show that Seminary may teach you a lot, but when it comes to some of the the more hands on things like writing a study, or even leading a class, there is no expectation. I see the timing of my ability to attend seminary as quite providential. 

Onward and upward.

Thursday
Mar192015

Thankful Thursday - The Seminary Edition

Today, I am thankful for safety to and from my very first seminary class. It's an hour drive, which isn't too bad. I decided to take the time in the car to listen to good music, so Fernando Ortega came with me on my travels.

The class has about thirty women, from as young as early twenties to someone her her late sixties. There is also a variety of backgrounds. Some are pastors wives, some are seminary students, and some are auditing the course so they can take the skills back to their home churches. I suspected that I would have many "I feel small" moments as I began, and I was right. When you sit in a room of really astute women, it can do that to you. Plus, the two teachers are very skilled and knowledgeable with the topic.

The class is about designing bible study curriculum. As we opened the day, we introduced ourselves and shared why we were there. My reason was that as a teacher, over the years, I have found it difficult to secure bible study material that is both theologically robust and encouraging. The prof said she liked that phrase "theologically robust" so much she wants to use it in the course description. I told her she could thank D.A. Carson for that phrase, because I certainly didn't come up with it.

We spent the day reviewing basic inductive bible study skills, working with some passages in Philippians, James, and Mark. Sometimes, we worked individually, and sometimes, we pooled our efforts. At the end of the day, we did a structuring assignment. I was "elected" from my side of the classroom to go to the whiteboard to do the work with another of my classmates. The classmate who came with me is graduating from the MTh program this year, but even after three years in seminary, some of these bible study skills were new to her. I've done nothing but learn bible study skills, and I guess I'm glad I have had experience with them. The prof has clearly spent time attending training from Precept Ministries, ones I've taken, too. If I hadn't had some of the training, I think I might have been a little lost at points.

It is very tiring to sit all day long. I know understand the desire to stand up desks. Sitting all day, and then driving home for an hour left me feeling pretty tired. I have some work to do yet, which is not due until Saturday, but I may get a start on it tonight after I've rested a bit.

My son attends this school, and during the chapel time, he was leading music, and I had hoped to get in there to see him, but we didn't stop until noon, and by then, chapel was almost over. I hope I can see him tomorrow.

The highlight of the day was a young woman, a mother of a 6-month old baby who is being cared for by her husband. This woman has never been exposed to this kind of focused bible study. It was very overwhelming to her. At one point, she asked, "What's a commentary?" But she wants to know the bible. At the end of the day, she was in tears, but not because she was frustrated, but because she was so amazed and blessed to discover this kind of teaching. No one had ever shown her how to study for herself in this way. Seeing someone react that way to discovering the riches of God's word was worh the price of the ticket, as the saying goes.

Tomorrow, once again, I'll be on the road early, and hopefully rested, and prepared for more learning.

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