Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning

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

Christian Practices and Technical Courses:
Making Integral Connections

Kurt C. Schaefer


Introduction: “Integration” in a “Technical” Course

A number of my colleagues who teach in the traditional liberal arts are also thinking carefully about the relationships among teaching, learning, and Christian practices. In my conversations with them, the word “restoring” often comes to mind. They express the intention of engaging in practices in order to restore to their students in their professions something that has been lost or sidelined. Often the disposition or capacity being restored has been diminished as a result of the influence of modernism. A colleague in literature draws on a long history of Christian practice in charitable reading to inform his classroom’s practices for approaching literature; a colleague in foreign languages draws on the tradition of Christian hospitality to strangers and foreigners to shape her students’ study of foreign languages; a colleague in philosophy draws on monastic practices surrounding liturgies of the hours to breathe new life into meditative reflections on philosophical texts.

I face a different challenge. I teach courses that many would view as “technical,” courses in areas for which there is virtually no pre-modern history upon which to draw. I teach a professional discipline to which others might point as a vanguard in modernism’s triumph over traditional, good practices.1 I teach econometrics in an economics program, a sub-

1. This criticism has come in several flavors, from both within and without the discipline. Alasdair MacIntyre provides the classic current account of modernism’s tendency to erode practices and virtues (After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 3rd ed. [Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007]). For the work of practicing economists that explic-

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