Reflections on Professoring

When our time today is over, my first foray into teaching college students will be half-way finished. Pepperdine students are a lot of fun. They are intelligent, well-rounded, and a lot of fun–generally. The class I’m teaching is a General Education course (third and last in the required sequence of Religion courses required for graduation), “Christianity and Culture.” The emphasis of the class is Christian Leadership in Times of Chaos. I have 29 students in class, nearly all of whom are Seniors, nearly half of whom are international students. Class meets from 2:30pm – 5:20pm, Monday – Thursday.

In Malibu.

In May.

This is challenging turf for young minds to grow in 🙂 Nevertheless, here are some random thoughts on teaching experience thus far.

  • College is a unique time in people’s lives and important time in their spiritual journey. I hope churches will wake up toward campus ministry again. It seems as though the passion for it in the Church has ebbed some. I’d hate to see it fade any further. It’s vital churches pay attention to the opportunities for ministry on college campuses.
  • It’s hard to peg people from who they are “on paper.” Given the demographic above, I completely underestimated the ability of the class to stay dialed in. They’ve been attentive and respectful throughout.
  • It’s been fascinating to see the classroom from the professor’s perspective for the first time. It’s easy to forget what it was like to be a student and come into the class with issues that made it hard to focus. It’s a lot like attending church under the same circumstances but it’s more frequent, you’re tested on what’s said, and the numbers are smaller–making it more difficult to hide.
  • Another observation from the professor’s perspective–it’s more frustrating than I thought to have students not find the material I’m teaching as fascinating as I do. Yes, I know this probably happens in church too…so I’ll save you the joke 😉
  • When you’re teaching, you’re not just teaching “a student.” They are someone’s son or daughter.
  • When you’re a student, the Professor isn’t just “Dr. so-and-so.” They are also a real person with education and wisdom (in theory) with something to say worth hearing.
  • I really feel students should be tested on the application of what they’ve learned, not just on the facts. Perhaps this class lends itself more to “applied knowledge” than others. However, I keep thinking some of today’s educational processes award people for the wrong type of achievement (memorization of data rather than learning and application of data). It’s like giving someone a black-belt for the books they’ve read on karate or acing a karate exam, rather than on whether they can fight in a manner worthy of a black-belt.
  • Oh yeah…and it’s hard work, but I’m loving it.

What are your thoughts on the educational experience these days? If you could change something abou the way people are taught these days, what would it be?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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