It was during this class that I got a clearer picture about methodological strategies for PhD dissertations or even paper presentations. The person leading the group, Dr. Limatula Longkumer, was quite organised in her presentation… though again, there was some critical issues about her own theological methodology that needed to be dealt with, but were not.

Still, this this ‘report’ I will list what I think academic methodology should consist of, with examples of Christian Education (CEd) that she presented. Thus, I am not following her own structure, but expressing her lectures from what I think is more practical for my purposes.

ACADEMIC METHODOLOGY(a general approach)

1. STATING THE ISSUES AND DEFINING THE TERMS

In this part, the researcher must state what she is talking about, list certain problems (one problem?) and provide operative definitions that she is working with.

In CEd terms, Dr. Longkumer set the stage as Christian Ministry, saying that CEd is seen as a part of the Applied Theology/Pastoral Theology discipline. Yet it is not simply Sunday School teaching, but refers to something more essential, across schooling institutions and even the Church. There have been debates, she went on to say, regarding whether Christian education should be ‘Christian’ or ‘Religious’ or ‘Christian/Religious’, and such questions, she promised, would be addressed later in the paper. Importantly, definitions are never static (as we learned in Advanced Hermeneutics)… and hence it is helpful to provide a ‘growing’ understanding of the discipline. Hence…

History of Definitions

a) that CEd was born within the missionary mindset (19th Century), where education was a means to lead people to God.
b) This developed in the early 20th as ‘religious’ education, where there was some need in education for ‘multi-religious’ exposure (not sure exactly what Longkumer said here because it was brief).
c) The conservative Christians (in Longkumer’s words) however felt that religious education was too ‘liberal’, loosing focus on God and the Bible, and so in the 1940s-50s asserted for the need and emphasis on ‘Christian’ Education.
d) But the ‘Christian’ education was too biblical in content, and emphasised narrow understanding of religions. Hence in 1980s, Thomas ‘something’ and Elizabeth Moore? emphasised on Christian religious education.
e) Gabrief Murran? however emphasised on a plurality of emphasis, where in pluralistic contexts Christians must emphasize ‘Religious’ education, whereas in solely Christian contexts, ‘Christian Education’ can be emphasised.

2. METHODOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Here, the researcher would list various methodologies that influenced her subject, through a historical timeline.

In CEd terms, Dr. Longkumer survey important contemporary approaches affecting Christian Education today. Perhaps in a longer paper, we would also have had a history of methdology. Still, contemporary range was as following.

A survey of Contemporary Methodology

a) One popular approach (according to conservatives/evangelicals Longkumer would assert) is the
i) religious instruction approach. Where the emphasis of education is to replicate the Church, where the main goal being, ‘how to pass on the content of the Bible to the people’.
ii) This is ‘content’ oriented, focussing on ‘transmission’.
iii) The role of the teacher is emphasised, it is teacher-oriented.
iv) It’s weaknesses include the lack of application to society.

*notice the above formulation. It lists the approach, and then highlights certain ideas about it. The ideas will be replicated, usually in the same order, in the later approaches, and thus we will see a better comparison between multiple approaches. This of course is a constructed taxonomy, but it is usually helpful in academic methodology.*

b) Another approach emphasised society and social ordering and has been refered to as (I think she is referring to Jack L. Seymor’s taxonomy, so I guess we can say, referred to by Seymore as…)
i) Faith-Community Approach, which emphasises the teaching of people withing society. Where
ii) (Now Longkumer did not emphasis further on each of the following points, but in a thorough study, my feeling is that equal weightage must be given to all surveyed methodologies, hence in this we emphasis learning styles… where in this case I think it would be a community oriented curriculum designed to generate a richer community. The Jews operated like this, perhaps even the catholic church, where the community sets the agenda for learning, not teacher, though it is still transmission oriented)
iii) (Here we would see the role of the teacher. Hence the role of the teacher is diminished, and emphasis on teaching/learning bodies)
iv) (and here a list of weaknesses)

c) The next approach discussed was
i) Development approach, that focuses upon the psychological development of the child and then measures content according to the ‘childs’ prescribed psychological need. An example of this is when a child comes to Class I she is expected to learn this/that. In Class II she is expected to do this… etc etc.
ii) (Fill in the blanks)
iii) (Fill in the blanks)
iv) (Fill in the blanks). :)

d) The next approach discussed by Longkumer was the
i) Liberative approach.

*Now I was to interrupt here by saying that there is a tendence in this methodology course to gloss over evangelical traditions and jump quickly into ‘ecumenical’/liberative methodologies. This is helpful for us evangelicals to see the other side, but it is also important to note the biases that affect their perceptions of history. I think before reaching the liberative approach, one would need to include a few more ‘student-directed’ initiatives that were being experiented before the time liberative approach came to the fore. Still, such an assertions needs to be asserted through historical readings, which I do not have, so we’ll accept the next, as the next*

i) Liberative approach… is the approach that believes education is for a purpose, for the betterment of society, for justice for the oppressed.
ii) Here education aims to be contextual, where context is an important determiner of curriculum.
iii) The role of the teacher is seen as guide, to help students connect with their own contexts, to guide them also to apply what they learn for their contexts. Students are encouraged to ask questions; even ask questions of society (critiquing the world students inherit)
iv) gender bias

e) Finally we have the
i) Feminist approach, that draws from the liberative approach in all things expect it emphasises the need for gender justice as well.
ii) (my additions, such an approach not only sees justice/societal transforamtion as Longkumer asserts but also an emphasis on womanist/feminist modes of learning. Less right/wrong methodology, and more caregiving, usually characteristics that are associated with women, for learning communities.)
iii) (women and men work together to teach people to respect gender at all times. Hence, there is an emphasis by teacher, but in methods that are less judgmental.) Students are encouraged to ask questions.
iv)

3. ADOPTION AND APPLICATIONChoosing one method and explaining/applying/working out in depth
(esp. in view of contextual realities)

This is obviously an important section and can usually be thought as the actual propoosal of the academic paper/presentation. The author/presenter, by this stage would have expressed a sufficient understanding of academic context to propose their own perspective, in view of the above dialogue.

Dr. Longkumer, in this respect, proposes, Transforming Approach as her adopted method, which obviously draws from liberative/feminist but differs in a few counts.

Most importantly, education in this approach is for transformation, but not only society but also of student/teacher mindsets. We can almost fill in the blanks, but this methodology includes education as dialogical, using multiple contexts, challenging society as well as challenging the challengers etc. This approach aims to be holistic, focusing on human knowledge not as acquisition, but as growing in personhood. etc etc etc.

Clearly, this is the meat of the proposal… and this is an extended discussion along with above mentioned points.

2-3 CRITICAL FRAMEWORK.

One thing is missing and I think Longkumer had it somewhere in her presentation, but I think it is more correctly between 2 and 3. This is the critical framework.

In this section, the research would discuss the earlier stated problems and see how the historical methodologies miss out in dealing with the issues. And instead, the researcher would argue, there methodology for the contemporary setting would need to have certain foundations/possibilities.

Dr. Longkumer mentioned a few such critical foundations…
Christian education requires
a) an integrated foundation.
b) a sound theological foundation (with more detail obviously… perhaps evangelicals could even have a biblical component added).
c) an emperical methodology (one that is practically devised, practical while learning, and practical while applied).

The above foundations then lead nicely to the ‘transformative approach’ in Longkumer’s proposal.

***

Ah! So the above is what I think is the usual (and I think expected) methodological structure of anything from scholarly articles to PhD disserations, with obviously a special influence of our own disciplines. I found that analysing and deconstructing Longkumer’s presentation was helpful to think about methodological issues. I would recommend and we as scholarly students must deconstruct other such articles and presentations to see whether we can understand structures, how they work and see what they should be.

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