Thursday, May 24, 2012

In order not to forget how I am teaching

Below is more of feedback that I got from some of my students taking Intro to New Testament class. All of these address the way I am teaching -- a kind of teaching philosophy.

One student said:

"Professor Kim started our first class session by sharing with us 'Professor Kim's Wisdom'." He indicated that these wisdom would assist us in going through the learning process in his class. I found his wisdom to be valuable. They provided me with food for thought. As he began to go through, I could see how each one of us could benefit from them in a very practical way that could extend way beyond the classroom setting. So often as preachers and teachers we bring our own personal experiences and lack of interpretation to our study of the Bible and we fail to approach the Bible with the proper context. As well as not having a true understanding of its history.

Wisdom 1: Consider this classroom as a battlefield. Professor Kim told us that there were two things that we needed to do in order to see the classroom as a battlefield: 1) fight your enemy, which is you; and 2) you need to be deconstructed. When I first heard him make these statements, I must admit that I was a bit confused. I initially thought that the enemy was the textbooks that we would be reading. Instead, the enemy that he was referring to was me and that I needed to break my own learning system. The was was not being waged against my textbooks or the Bible but my mind. I needed to dispel my presuppositions and seek to understand the Bible from a historical perspective and not just a theological perspective alone. I found this wisdom to be profound and will do my best to grab hold to it!

Wisdom 2: What kind attitude you need. There are two kinds: 1) You should know that you don't know, and 2) you should open your heart and mind. I actually laughed when Prof. Kim said this but then I realized that he was right. we as preachers think that because we have been preaching and teaching that we know it all. Prof. Kim urged us to acknowledge our ignorance and accept the fact that we don't know (ji-bul-ji-sang). He further stated that while we don't know, we pretend to know (bul-ji-ji-byung). Both words come from Dao DeJing. I immediately conceded to the fact that I don't know and that is why I have come to seminary so that I can begin this process of knowing.

Wisdom 3: God cannot help you in this class! Professor Kim made it very clear that prayer alone would not help us in his class. Study and prayer is the key to success in his class. If we don't study, we will fail. I appreciate Prof. Kim sharing his wisdom with us and will do my absolute best to apply each and every one of them through this semester."

One student said:

"As I listened so carefully, trying to make sure that I don't miss any word, Professor Kim shocked the whole class when he said that God can helps us, but there are some things that God cannot help us with. On this account I got confused because I have always thought that God has all the power and authority and there is nothing impossible with Him; but as the professor unfolded the whole thing, I learned that if I am only praying and telling God to help me pass my exams and I am not studying, then I should be sure that I am doomed to fail the course. But if I pray and study, I will pass."

One student said:

"As I now reflect, at the end of this class, on Dr. Kim's message to us at the beginning of the class, all he said was certainly true. The class did become a battlefield. We fought ourselves as we deconstructed the many new concepts and facts we learned about the New Testament and we engaged each other in "friendly fire" as we battled differences in opinion and our own theologies. Dr. Kim took us to many places in our thinking we have never gone to before. We have been deconstructed, challenged to think broader and deeper and to think critically of information presented to us. I grew up in a rural Baptist church where there were not a lot of teaching. The Bible was not a document to be questioned, debated, or thought about in the very critical manner we did in this class.  ... So Dr. Kim, thank you! Thank you for your depth of knowledge and the way you presented to us in class. Thank you also for assisting me with gaining the ability to take in new things - to reach far beyond my comfort zone. Finally, thank you for helping me to understand that I can listen to others, debate with others and dialogue with others while keeping my heart and mind open to God in how He speaks to me."

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