Higher Education Provides a Collaborative Learning Environment

Article excerpt

Picture this scene at Wartburg Theological Seminary where I am blessed to teach: Classes start early. Alert, eager and engaged, we dig into studies together. Although I might sit at the front of the room, 10 minutes into the hour, it's not just my wisdom students copy down, but some new theological insight we discover together that none of us would have thought of on our own.

Next is chapel, followed by time in the refectory to connect. One hears a buzz about global concerns, new student projects and meetings. By noon, conversation has turned into action - perhaps in the Dubuque community, perhaps in the broader church and world.

Learning together, life together, all over the place. Yes, students respect the faculty. Likewise faculty respect students, their ideas, gifts and experiences.

Wartburg is a strong academic institution. And, a strong learning community. The two go together. When any environment is merely hierarchical, assuming knowledge is inside only one person - the professor/teacher, pastor/priest - teaching and learning are limited.

Appropriate teaching authority lies in setting the stage for people, the body of Christ Christians would say, to be learning around the Word of God together.

Only God is the Almighty One, so for me to "Lord it over" my students (Oh, did I say "my"? …