Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning

By David I. Smith; James K. A. Smith | Go to book overview

Thrill Rides and Labyrinths:
The Pedagogical Logic of Freedom and Constraint

Matthew Walhout

The broad aim of this book is to link the logic of Christian practices with the logic of classroom teaching. In this chapter I will examine some connections that might be made even in the science classroom, particularly in science courses that serve as cognates within pre-professional programs. I’ll do so in three parts. First, to start with a vivid example of “logic-linking,” I will describe a teaching strategy popular among teachers of introductory physics. The strategy is to situate physics within the broader context of an amusement park and to motivate students by way of their extra-scientific interest in thrill rides. I will point out analogies between the physical constraints and freedoms that make a ride thrilling (as opposed to terrifying) and the contextual constraints that this teaching strategy employs. In the second section, I will build on the contextual discussion of constraints and freedoms and state explicitly what I find to be the most salient differences between Christian and secularized, public education. Third, I will describe my own attempt to situate two physics courses within a framework of Christian goals and aspirations, specifically those of aspiring pre-service teachers and health-science majors. I have used the guiding metaphor of a prayer labyrinth to re-narrate the traditional aims of these courses and to invite students to reflect contemplatively on their work and learning.


Dynamics of a Thrill Ride

Students in introductory physics courses have started to take the tools of learning into their own hands. Their teachers send them off into the world with handheld microprocessor devices that can record and display data

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