October 11-14, 2019, the Pastoral Studies Institute of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary hosted a Dialogue Education Conference.
Dr. Kenneth Cherney, Jr. of WLS trained eighteen participants working in five continents in “Dialogue and the Adult Learner.”
Participants—experienced missionaries, pastors, and professors from programs of theological education in more than fifteen countries around the world, including educators from urban Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia—improved their ability to design and lead effective learning experiences for adults. They also established and enhanced relationships within the global network of educators affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
Mandy Degner, PSI executive assistant, and Dr. E. Allen Sorum, PSI director, organized the conference. Volunteers from the WLS family provided and served meals.
The biblical/theological trainers who gathered at WLS followed in the footsteps of Dr. Jane Vella, who argues, “The more teaching is going on, the less learning.”
That is, the first three days of the workshop participants did not study banking knowledge to deposit it into learners. The group learned about and designed a Learning Needs and Resources Assessment (LRNA) and Achievement-Based Objectives (ABO) for adult learners.
The Dialogue Education philosophy aims at neither a free-for-all, nor truth-is-whatever-you-want-it-to-be, but learning-by-doing. Facilitators do not aim for students to have studied five principles of adult learning in a class, for example. Instead: “Participants will have ranked five principles of adult learning in order of importance to them.”
In DE, teachers strive to show respect and humility toward students; they design open questions, rather than fishing for answers worded in a specific way. By creating learning tasks which do not read,”/ will do this in class,” but “this is what students will do in class,” teachers plan to foster inclusion, safety, immediacy, relevance, and energy.
—Pastor Dan Witte