Today we made the transition, from Year 3 to Year 4. Which is to say: we shifted our focus from “Leadership and Transformation in Education,” to “Curriculum Development.” For some of the participants, this was about time… as we all felt that we were supposed to be focussing on education all along. Personally, while I could understand the importance of leadership and governance issues for education, the facilitators did not make the education application/implications overt enough.

Nevertheless, it was a breath of fresh air, with the sessions being more engaging and diverse.

The input session of conflict management (morning session) had some interesting thoughts. I felt it could have been done better, especially, as I have said earlier, kept “tasks” as more central to the process than teaching. We were dealing with so many biblical models of reconciliation… but we could have spent more time in seeing how to improve conflict resolution practices personally or corporately (in the seminary context). Nevertheless some of the ideas were actually helpful: for eg, Duane Elmer’s ideas of cross cultural conflict resolution (like keeping the preservation of relationship as the paramount focus of any confrontation).

An important education lesson occurred as soon as the facilitator finished his session and began the next topic. We were dealing with heavy issues of conflict and reconciliation, and then, when that session ended, we moved immediately to curriculum development. Suddenly the facilitator stopped and admitted that transition was too soon, and he paused for prayer.. and gave us a break… and then re=began the new session on curriculum development. A good example of a teacher admitting mistake and recovering.

The afternoon session continued the discussion method… and the focus was also on curriculum development; this time on the assumptions that were evident (or needed to be explicit) in the development of curriculum. Now here, as expected, there were excellent pedagogical models. For instance, for a case-study discussion, the facilitator split the groups (shook comfort zones) and made us discuss. Also, every group’s results were given equal attention (and not hastily summarised). Then, the facilitator affirmed the group by showing that his own observations about assumptions were less than the whole assumptions noted by the groups. While most of us were critical of the central character in the case-study, then the facilitor urged us to think differently by identifying positives. Another helpful exercise.

However, here is when it fell away… when back in our college groups, we ran out of time… and were not able to have enough time to apply the lessons of assumptions on our own curriculum. In fact, even before we identified all our assumptions (no time to critique/evaluate them)… we had to move to the next topic.  Once again, the importance of keeping the main-thing, the main-thing was felt. I felt that the exercise of discussion is really good… however, the cost is time. So perhaps the discussions should be reserved to what really needs to be discussed… like how organisations see themselves… and we can rush the setup. (but this can have other sides… so it’s more a personal feeling).

The session concluded with another “input” session where developing curriculum was the focus. Again, the weakness of the input method was made explicit, even by the facilitator, but he pressed on. To his credit, there was the freedom to ask questions at anytime (in fact all input sessions allowed good question opportunities). However the predominant Input method just made questions feel like interruptions rather than the genuine addition to collective wisdom.

Anyway… I had a much better time today… and felt there were helpful ideas related to teaching/education to watch out for or incorporate.