Today’s session at the GATE workshop left me with mixed feelings. The structure, especially the early part… allowed for a lot of institutional engagement. For the first time, it actually felt like a workshop. However, it was a process that could have been significantly improved.

The morning began with each seminary working on a description of the ideal graduate for their respective seminary degree programmes. In particular, they were to identify the character and skill goals (expectations). These were developed in conjunction with one of the facilitators.We spent close to 2 hours… working on this.

So what was the problem? We had already done it the previous year, and yet there was no mention of the previous exercise… no relation to the difference between the past and present activity. Worse… many seminaries / participants didn’t even remember that they had done it. So in effect, neither the facilitators nor the participants added to the knowledge gained from the previous year. It was almost as if the last year didn’t need to happen.

Only after this concern was raised… the relation between past and present was addressed (late in the evening, last session). Which already suggested that within the context of adult learning… determining prior knowledge is of crucial importance.

Similarly, by the afternoon session, the input sessions dominated and once again there was no time for tasks… nor the workshop method. So the gains of the morning could not be extended.

Finally, however, right at the end, the SAIACS group had the opportunity to work through a “curriculum matrix” an interesting diagnostic tool. The activity engaged our table and also was quite significant in helping us related the “Theory” of curriculum to our actual application. Such activities, I feel, should have been the focus rather than just an add-on.

Nevertheless… some positive gains today. But tiredness and some disappointment has set in. Is it even possible to achieve the ideals of good education, good teaching?