One of the best things about The Seminary is their “head, heart and hands” model. The idea is that, particularly in theological education probably, it’s no good simply to fill the head with knowledge, it’s less than effective if all you do is focus on the inner spiritual world, and it’s even an empty exercise simply to train in practical good works which aren’t grounded in anything. The recognition is that each one of these components is vital to the others, in a life of living faith, and so the professors intentionally build things into each course to help foster growth intellectually, spiritually and practically.
However, in certain classes, we the students are also called on to incorporate each of these elements in our learning, and so each have two mentors with whom we meet on a frequent and regular basis (mine are awesome) and we draw up a plan for a “Guided Learning Experience” (GLE) on which we will work throughout the course. I am one of these complicated people who hates to be told what to do, but also needs some kind of structure in order to function effectively, and so this construct fits me just perfectly. I appreciate accountability–if I’m the one who gets to discern for what I get to be accountable. Otherwise I get kind of defensive. Maybe one of these days I should do a Guided Learning Experience regarding defensiveness . . .
The basic process of the GLE goes like this:
- You draw up your own plan for your Experience, which includes the Learning Need you have discerned for yourself, a Learning Objective, and some Learning Activities in which to engage so that ideally your reach the Objective. The activities must represent each of five categories: Scriptural, Cognitive, Experiential, Interactive, and Integrative.
- You show your write-up to your mentors and they approve it or not. Once it’s approved, you turn it in to the professor.
- You work through the activities that you have set for yourself, checking in with your mentors at mutually agreed-upon points.
- At the end of the term, you write up a report on what you did and what you learned, get your mentors’ feedback on whether they think the Objective was accomplished, and turn it in.
If you’re someone who likes to be intentional about your faith, as I do, and you sometimes feel like there’s an aspect of your life God is poking at because He wants to help you work through it or something, this GLE thing is a really helpful way to focus on that thing. I feel like I’m probably going to keep doing these even after I graduate, if I can keep on finding people to mentor me. I also feel like I would like to help mentor others in this same process. In fact, I’m really starting to think I want to learn more about becoming a Christian “spiritual director,” and I feel like the GLE would be a great tool in the arsenal of spiritual direction.
But anyway, for now I just wanted to tell you about it–because I like them, and because classes start up again next week and once again I will lack time to blog. So I wanted to explain that next week I will post my most recent GLE plan, and the week after that, I will post the report I wrote up at the end of it. And in the weeks following, I will post some mini-papers I wrote for my Old Testament survey class last term. That way, at least there will be something to read around here on Thursdays. It’s just most likely all to be very theological . . . Here’s hoping that’s in the best sense of the term.