четверг, 24 декабря 2015 г.

Всеукраїнський круглий стіл «Освіта і наука: формування особистості на основі християнських цінностей» у Верховній Раді України

22 грудня 2015 року у Верховній Раді України відбувся науковий Всеукраїнський круглий стіл «Освіта і наука: формування особистості на основі християнських цінностей» за ініціативою Міжфракційного депутатського об’єднання «За духовність, моральність та здоров’я України» та Ради молодих учених при Міністерстві освіти і науки України.

Близько 100 вчених різних наукових галузей знань з усіх регіонів України приїхали у Київ з метою презентації своїх наукових досліджень з питань:

  • впливу християнства на розвиток України та  інших країн світу,
  • оцінки  християнських цінностей, як фактора впливу на розвиток науки і освіти у світі та формування цінностей у громадян України

Голова Міжфракційного депутатського об’єднання «За духовність, моральність та здоров’я України» Павло Унгурян привітав учасників із наступаючими Різдвяними святами та зазначив, що в Україні відбувається трансформація світогляду суспільства. Країна прийняла рішення про інтеграцію у Європу, котру  формувало християнство. Найкращі школи, лікарні, підприємства Європи і США були засновані християнами,  тому наразі є важливим завдання визначити і запропонувати, яким чином професіонали з християнським світоглядом можуть позитивно впливати на науку, освіту, державність в Україні.

Лілія Гриневич, голова Комітету науки і освіти Верховної Ради України зазначила, що основною складовою при здобутті освіти є система цінностей, яка формується  в дитині. Знання є значно швидкоплинніші ніж система цінностей, яка дозволяє дитині робити правильний вибір, приймати правильне рішення, правильно спрямувати свою життєву дорогу. Новий закон про освіту повинен дати відповідь на питання,  що лежить в основі цінностей українців, які себе ідентифікують  здебільшого як християнська держава,  яка себе вважає частиною європейського культурного простору,  що базується на християнських цінностях. Ми все ще пожинаємо плоди цього радянського трактування  принципу відокремленості церкви і школи. Принцип невтручання у справи не означає, що церква і освіта не можуть взаємодіяти. Виховання людини є найкращим полем такої взаємодії. В Європі християнські школи і університети демонструють одну з найкращих якостей системи освіти.

Відеозапис виступу Л.Гриневич:  (https://www.facebook.com/liliya.grynevych/videos/1070708569639854/)

Ольга Романенко, член Ради молодих учених при Міністерстві освіти і науки, координатор проекту та модератор даного Круглого столу зазначила, що все частіше вчені України проводять дослідження і виявляють тісний зв’язок впливу світогляду людей на економічне і суспільне життя країн і результати діяльності людей і організацій. Ігнорування духовних чинників в наукових дослідженнях, міф про те, що «релігія і наука є не сумісні»,  досі мають негативний вплив на формування спеціалістів у школах і університетах країни. Особливий інтерес викликала статистика Світового банку щодо оцінки впливу християнства на соціально-економічний розвиток країн, у якій наводилася вражаюча статистика стосовно економічного рівня країн залежно від їх віросповідання та світогляду громадян.

Загалом вчені з усієї України констатували, що сьогодні йде велика боротьба за християнську культуру Європи. Заперечуючи роль Християнства як вагомого чинника розвитку Європи і України і відтинаючись від християнської культури, ми як Європейська країна ризикуємо втратити нашу ідентичність.

Народні депутати та науковці дискутували і пропонували шляхи вирішення нагальних проблем в науці і освіті з позиції християнських цінностей:

  • Лобіювання законопроектів, які захищають християнські цінності, зокрема родинні.
  • Запровадження в освітніх закладах предмет християнської етики, християнської культури. У ВУЗах України запровадити курси християнської філософії, економіки, політології, родинознавства та утворити факультети богослов’я, які є в більшості Університетах Європи.
  • На міжнародному рівні варто поглиблювати співпрацю з християнськими сусідами, у яких на державному рівні можемо побачити чіткі християнські позиції.
  • Надати можливість ефірного часу на державних телеканалах для пропагування християнських цінностей.

Підсумком Круглого столу стало рішення створити Асоціацію вчених-християн, проводити щорічний форум, на якому презентувати дослідження і проекти, щодо поглиблення науки і освіти на основі християнських цінностей, розширити взаємодію із міжнародними науковими і освітніми закладами, що поділяють християнський світогляд.

Інститут модернізації змісту освіти (сектор зовнішніх комунікацій) надавав організаційну допомогу у проведенні заходу.

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Джерело: http://www.imzo.gov.ua/2015/12/vseukrayinskiy-krugliy-stil-osvita-i-nauka-formuvannya-osobistosti-na-osnovi-hristiyanskih-tsinnostey-u-verhovniy-radi-ukrayini/

четверг, 6 августа 2015 г.

New Innovations in Theological Education: An Interview With Kent Anderson

Date: 28 January 2015
Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/january/new-innovations-in-theological-education-interview-with-ken.html


Theological education is evolving before our eyes—programs like Immerse are changing the game. | Ed Stetzer

New Innovations in Theological Education: An Interview With Kent Anderson

For some reason, I spent a lot of time at seminaries in 2014. Some are thriving, some are shrinking, but a few are innovating. There are many reasons we don't see much innovating on the campuses on seminaries, but the need to follow accrediting requirements is one of them, to be sure. Accrediting agencies want to assure that you don’t innovate in such a way that it lessens the quality of the education being delivered.

That can make innovation tricky.

Well, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) has approved an experimental program—for just one school, actually—to open up some new options that will be valuable for church planting and many other settings.

While speaking in Toronto recently I learned about a new accredited program that I wanted to pass on to you. Northwest Baptist Seminary, a FEB seminary which is partnered with the ACTS seminary consortium in Vancouver, calls their experimental program, “Immerse.”

I recognize that there are a lot of other seminaries doing great work. I serve on faculty at two of them, TEDS and Southeastern. But, this program has some unique opportunities and I thought I'd share them with you.

After a couple of meetings with the school president, Kent Anderson, he agreed to answer a few questions about the program in this interview!

Ed Stetzer: First, tell me about what’s unique about the Immerse program. Others have external programs, so how does this go further?

Kent Anderson: Immerse is the only program that has been approved by ATS to offer an accredited M.Div., that is entirely outcomes-based and delivered fully in context through a customizable, mastery, mentored model. The program is a deep collaboration (co-owned) with our parent denomination, Fellowship Pacific, and other networks with which we agree to partner. This is an iteration beyond online learning and describes a creative and exciting new way for church and seminary to leverage their collective strengths for the good of the Kingdom.

ES: So, you can create this partnership with other networks or denominations? Is that just in Canada?

KA: Yes, we have worked to create such partnerships with denominations, emerging networks, and more to create an M.Div. fully in their context— using a mastery model, not where they get shipped off to seminary. And, this is all done with an ATS accredited M.Div. We are the first and, so far, the only school through which this has been possible.

ES: How are students already engaging?

KA: We immediately experienced a dramatic spike in enrollment, attracting an entirely new group of emerging leaders. These people, who were completely unattracted by traditional seminary offerings, were exactly the kind of student that we have always aspired to draw, despite the fact that we raised the bar for admission as high as we possibly could. We are three years into this thing, and so far we are seeing students digging in beyond what we have typically seen through other models of education. We are also seeing, much more quickly, what kind of stuff the students have. Personal discipline and time management issues become immediately evident, for example. The cream rises quickly.

ES: What are the potential plans with C2C and Outreach Canada? How will this increase church planting capacity?

KA: As of last week, we have an agreement with C2C to offer Immerse under the C2C brand for the work of missional church planting. Outreach Canada has been fully supportive of this, welcoming us to present the program to church planting catalysts across the country. Several Canadian denominations are considering involvement. As to our parent denomination, the Fellowship Baptists, we now are empowered to offer the model coast to coast. As to church planting, the key impediment is always finding great planters. This model attacks that problem head-on. Immerse offers the opportunity for great planters to replicate themselves.

ES: What is “experimental status” and how long do you have it?

KA: The Association of Theological Schools needed a way to accredit the program despite the fact that our model is literally exceptional—it exceeds any reasonable construal of the standards that govern seminaries in North America. Their answer was to treat it as an official experiment. By this, the ATS itself has a sense of ownership and involvement in the process, putting the program on the highest possible profile. We have five years to prove our results. When we do, the ATS will have some sense of obligation to build what has been learned into the standards that effect everyone. This is an opportunity to affect the very direction of theological education.

ES: If it works, will we see other schools doing the same?

KA: We have already seen a significant amount of interest from other schools. While networks and schools will want to find their own distinct expressions, I really believe that we will see a number of schools in the future adopt these values—mastery model, context-based, outcomes focused, etc.

ES: What are you hoping to see accomplished?

KA: We want to collectively own the responsibility for the development of those who will lead our networks for the future. If we can get past the tired model of looking at seminaries as "pastor stores," I believe that we can see a dramatic increase in effective church planting and church revitalization through the development of leaders who are gifted, called, and proven for the work. This is not about building the institution or prestige of the seminary. This is all about seeing the church prosper.

ES: Is this just Canadian, or can churches in the United States (and Australia, etc) get involved?

KA: The Association of Theological Schools is a trans-national movement, so there is no reason that we cannot work with networks beyond our home base here in Canada. As a context-based program, the locus of the work is wherever the student and ministry come together on the ground. In a lot of ways, this is taking missionial thinking to the seminary level. We can help this happen anywhere.

ES: While we are talking about relationships, tell me about ACTS and how that relates to Northwest Seminary.

KA: Northwest is one of the founding partners of the ACTS seminaries consortium. For more than 25 years, we have been working together with other like-minded denominations to provide high quality ministry leadership development in collaboration with Trinity Western University. At ACTS we share everything—faculty, budget, program. This has allowed us to do more than any of us could have managed on our own. Really, it is this experience in collaboration that made it possible for Northwest to learn how to collaborate beyond our own region through models like Immerse.

Let me add that Northwest is open to conversation with any like-minded network about how we might be able to extend the Immerse platform for the good of the Kingdom.

понедельник, 3 августа 2015 г.

Jürgen Moltmann: Why I am (Still) An Evangelical

Date: July 29, 2015
Author: Jürgen Moltmann
Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2015/07/why-i-am-still-an-evangelical/


Jürgen Moltmann

Here I offer my contribution to the Evangelical Channel’s Theme: Why I am (Still) Evangelical.

In graduate school, I minored in theology.  During my time there, the theology department was unabashedly progressive–at least by evangelical standards.  Most students considered Jürgen Moltmann too conservative, and virtually no one had read Carl Henry.  In spite of this (or maybe because of it), I thoroughly enjoyed my theology courses and look back at them with fondness.  Despite my persistence as an evangelical (and Southern Baptist at that), I was treated with respect and courtesy in nearly every instance.  Even so, I emerged as an enigma to some of my colleagues.  During a seminar break one afternoon, one of them queried me, “How did you get so far in theological education and remain conservative [theologically]?”  He did not intend to disparage me, rather he expressed genuine befuddlement mixed with a bit of playful curiosity.  To my friend, who had himself once been evangelical, progress in theological education paralleled an abandonment of evangelical commitment. For me, the opposite was true.

I grew up in a liberal denomination. Even so, my mother had one foot in neo-Pentecostalism.  As a result, when Richard Roberts–yes, that Richard Roberts–held a revival in a nearby town, she took me to see him.  That night, as I sat in the balcony, the gospel became real to me.  Although I had understood the basic facts for a while–that God sent his Son to be the savior of the world–that night I recognized the seriousness of my own sin and my personal need for a savior and I experienced an evangelical conversion as I responded to the invitation.  Evidently, it “took.”

Noll – The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

When I was a teenager, my family joined a local, charismatic-tinged Southern Baptist Church.  There, I encountered smart, devout people whose lives had been changed by the same gospel message that transformed me.  Although I failed to recognize it at the time, the anti-intellectualism described by Mark Nollpermeated the evangelical subculture in which I spent my teenage years.  At the same time, so did an authentic and sincere piety that nurtured my affection for Christ and grew my reverence for the Scripture.  I carried that with me to college.

At the University of Virginia, I landed in Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru).  University life fanned my predisposition for learning while my participation in Cru nourished my faith.  In my last year, I encountered some of the smartest people I had ever known in Robert Wilken‘s Early Christian Ethics class.  Origen, Tertullian, Ambrose and others invigorated my faith and intellect and I began to understand that the two might comfortably reside together.  Sensing a real call to ministry and simultaneous desire to “love the Lord [my] God with… all [my] mind (Luke 10:27, NIV),” I pursued more education, first at a denominational seminary, then at Vanderbilt University.

At Southeastern Seminary, I completed my Master of Divinity degree in a confessional, spiritually-rich environment that emphasized evangelism, local church ministry, and biblical exposition.  At the same time, I  delved into the Bible, theology, church history, and other disciplines as taught by professors with doctorates from Aberdeen, Chicago, Hebrew Union College, and Brandeis.  There, learning and spirituality came together, deepening and reinforcing one another.  As I developed a love for church history and a desire to pursue a vocational career in academics, I continued to read the Bible.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

When I moved to Nashville, I kept reading the Bible. As I did, an evangelical understanding of its overarching narrative made more and more sense–and my theology courses contributed to this.  I found my theology coursework challenging, yet intellectually invigorating.  Contrary to the experience of many, Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel, Harnack, Schweitzer, Newman, De Lubac, Bultmann, Barth, Moltmann and others strengthened my evangelical commitment.  Schleiermacher helped me acknowledge the unmediated nature of our encounter with Christ, Kant pressed me to think more clearly about the limits of knowledge, Newman challenged me to think historically about doctrine in light of my Protestant commitment to sola scriptura, Moltmann pressed me to think about oppressive political structures as a manifestation of fallen-ness–and the list could go on.  Through struggling with these authors, my own thinking was sharpened and my own evangelical faith deepened.

And so, that day in the seminar, when my friend asked how I could remain theologically conservative in spite of my great learning (not as great as he gave me credit for, by the way), I replied somewhat glibly,”I kept reading the Bible and it kept talking about me.”  Although I certainly simplified the matter, the truth was that as I read more, learned more, and thought more, the evangelical understanding of the biblical narrative of creation–fall–judgment–redemption impressed itself upon me, continuing to recount the story of my own life while making sense of the world in a way that nothing else that I studied did.  I knew that my own life was peppered by self-deception and sin and needed the grace of God offered in Christ.  Further, I saw a world populated with human beings who regularly and vigorously sinned against one another.  They too needed the grace of God offered in Christ.  Finally, as my more progressive colleagues helped me to discern, there were (and are) sinful structures of oppression the permeated the world.  Those caught in them–as either oppressed or oppressor–need the grace of God offered in Christ, while the structures themselves need the perfect king to come in righteous judgment and tear them down.  In the end, all other explanations regarding the troubles of this world seemed insufficient, while all other solutions regarding how to address them seemed utterly inadequate.  And thus I remained (and remain) evangelical.

Why Theological Education Is Necessary

Date: 31 July 2015
Author: Geoffrey Kruse-Safford
Source: https://noihasseen.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/why-theological-education-is-necessary/


Few things are as challenging as the demand to think the faith.

Few things are as challenging as the demand to think the faith.

The guy would come to the bookstore every once in a while. Elegantly dressed, he was Senior Pastor at a large Baptist Church in the DC area. I was always intrigued by the fact that in a Seminary bookstore, he would talk down a Seminary education, even calling Seminary “Cemetery”, as if a place to educate and nurture future church leaders was really a place faith came to die. Doing this all the while buying books . . . it made my head hurt.

I sat in on a couple class meetings of a Seminar led by our then-Academic Dean,Dr. M. Douglas Meeks. The class was reading Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, Volume IV, Part 1 and during the very first meeting, a student asked the relevance of something as dense as Barth’s theology in the local church. Doug turned to me and offered me a chance to answer, as I had, by this time, spent time as a clergy spouse in a local church. My answer was simple and clear: Because this is what people in our churches hunger for. They may not have the technical vocabulary, but folks in the local church demonstrate a need for ways to think through and speak their faith. They look to clergy to help guide them. To be able to do that, a minimal understanding of the vocabulary and movement of Christian God-talk is necessary. That’s why there are classes on Systematic Theology, advanced classes on Biblical theology and Seminars on particular theologians. Not only is clarity of exposition necessary; knowing why our particular theology as heirs of John Wesley is distinct from Reformed, Lutheran, Baptist, and other theologies helps congregations understand who they are.

I recently got all technical with Rev. John Meunier over the matter of “truth”. Just yesterday, he published a piece about “saving souls” being the primary business of the church. Again, I am not picking on Rev. Meunier (I’m really not!!!). Still, I think it is necessary to highlight why theological education is necessary, particularly when it comes to such technical matters as questions of theological truth, the matter of “souls”, what salvation means, etc. I am going to assume, for the moment, that Meunier has, at the very least, the basic theological education, including Systematics. Continuing one’s education beyond this most basic class – really a historical and doctrinal survey class more than anything else – becomes important, particular when it comes to discussing matters of import about ministry, mission, and the nature of the Church’s proclamation. Clarity is impossible without understanding that the words we use are hardly simple or have one clear definition. One need not be involved in contemporary technical philosophical or theological discussions but still should understand that writing, say, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to found our unity and our discipline on truth?”, begs far more questions than it would seek to settle. To insist that “saving souls” is the business of the Church without being clear about what “salvation” means, about what the author means by “soul”, leads both to confusion and further questions.

The United Methodist malaise is due in no small part to our inability as a connection to have a coherent theological discussion in which all parties accept the terms of debate, from “doctrine” right up to “evangelical” (a word hijacked by particular factions in a denomination whose very identity is evangelical; thus so much of our “discussion” becomes a debate over who can call themselves such when all United Methodist, clergy and lay, are in the business of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ). At the very least, we need to accept that the particular vocabulary of theology might well use everyday words whose commonsense understanding just doesn’t work within the context of serious God-talk.

So, to all those clergy and laity out there who think all that theological and philosophical mumbo-jumbo has nothing to do with being Church, remember: If you can’t articulate not only what you believe, but why you believe it, in ways that do justice to the specificity of the Revelation of the Trinity in Jesus Christ, then, perhaps, you need to reevaluate why you’re in ministry in the first place.

суббота, 25 июля 2015 г.

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пятница, 24 июля 2015 г.

Classes should do hands-on exercises before reading and video, Stanford researchers say

Author: David Plotnikoff
Date: 16 July 2013
Source: http://goo.gl/yC6ZDJ 

A study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education of how students best learned a neuroscience lesson showed a distinct benefit to starting out by working with an interactive 3D model of the brain.

BY DAVID PLOTNIKOFF

A new study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education flips upside down the notion that students learn best by first independently reading texts or watching online videos before coming to class to engage in hands-on projects. Studying a particular lesson, the Stanford researchers showed that when the order was reversed, students' performances improved substantially.

While the study has broad implications about how best to employ interactive learning technologies, it also focuses specifically on the teaching of neuroscience and underscores the effectiveness of a new interactive tabletop learning environment, called BrainExplorer, which was developed by Stanford GSE researchers to enhance neuroscience instruction.

The findings were featured in the April-June issue of IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies.

"Our results suggest that students are better prepared to understand a theory after first exploring by themselves, and that tangible user interfaces are particularly well-suited for that purpose," said Bertrand Schneider, a GSE graduate student who led the research under the direction of Paulo Blikstein, an assistant professor of education. The two other co-authors of the research paper are Roy Pea, a professor of education, and Stanford undergraduate Jenelle Wallace.

The study draws on data gathered from students using the BrainExplorer, a tabletop tool that simulates how the human brain processes visual images. It features polymer reproductions of different regions of the brain and eyes, as well as cameras and infrared pens.

Students use the pen to manipulate and explore the neural network; by severing and reconfiguring the connections, they can see how perceptions of the visual field are transformed. (Schneider developed the device in collaboration with Wallace as a final project for a course, Beyond Bits and Atoms, taught by Blikstein.)

The study involved 28 undergraduate and graduate students as participants, none of whom had studied neuroscience. After being given an initial test, half of the group read about the neuroscience of vision, while the others worked with BrainExplorer. When tested after those respective lessons, the performance of participants who used BrainExplorer increased significantly more – 30 percent – than those who had read the text.

Next the researchers had each of the two groups do the other learning activity: Those who had used BrainExplorer read the text, while those who had read the text used BrainExplorer. All the participants then took another test, and the findings revealed a 25-percent increase in performance when open-ended exploration came before text study rather than after it. (A follow-up study showed identical results for video classes instead of text.)

"We are showing that exploration, inquiry and problem solving are not just 'nice to have' things in classrooms," said Blikstein. "They are powerful learning mechanisms that increase performance by every measure we have."  Pea explained that these results indicate the value for learning of first engaging one's prior knowledge and intuitions in investigating problems in a learning domain – before being presented with abstracted knowledge. Having first explored how one believes a system works creates a knowledge-building relevance to the text or video that is then presented, he said.

The research comes out as the idea of a "flipped classroom," in which students first watch videos or read texts and then do projects in the classroom, has been growing in popularity at colleges and graduate schools. The study's conclusion suggests that the current model of the flipped classroom should itself be flipped upside down. The researchers advocate the "flipped flipped classroom," in which videos come after exploration and not before.

The authors chose neuroscience as the discipline for the study because it is a rapidly changing field that relies heavily on computers rather than paper texts or lectures. But the results extend beyond neuroscience. Similar technology could be projected onto other emerging data-intensive fields such as genomics and nanotechnology, which are quickly making their way into undergraduate and high school education everywhere.

The BrainExplorer system is a proof-of-concept that may have applications in any field where teaching demands visualization and exploration of complex systems. "Part of our goal," the researchers write, "is to create low-cost, easy-to-scale educational platforms based on open source, free software and off-the-shelf building blocks such as web cameras and infrared pens so that our system can be easily and cheaply deployed in classrooms."

The study buttresses what many educational researchers and cognitive scientists have been asserting for many years: the "exploration first" model is a better way to learn. In addition to these published findings, the researchers spoke at an American Educational Research Association meeting earlier this year about another study that used instructional video instead of text and obtained the same results. The team is now conducting follow-up studies.

"With this study, we are showing that research in education is useful because sometimes our intuitions about 'what works' are simply dead wrong," said Blikstein.

The study was funded with support from the National Science Foundation.

David Plotnikoff writes frequently for the Graduate School of Education.

4 Reasons Young People Should Consider Getting a Theological Education

Author: Braxton Hunter
Data: 22 Jul 2015

Sarah Medicis is guest blogging for us this week. She is a phenomenal young lady who has recently gotten excited about apologetics and it has been a part of a revolution in her Christian life. In this article she will tell you why theological education might energize and engage a generation of disinterested millennials! Listen to her! She . . . IS . . . ONE!

Her message? If you go after a theological education you will . . .

GET HUNGRY

A wise man (speaking on why young people often leave the church) once said, “The problem, at least in part, is that we haven't been presenting the intellectual weight of the Christian faith to them.”

This wise man’s name is Braxton, and at different points in the past four years he has been my pastor, my professor, and essentially my mentor in Christian apologetics. I’m currently a student at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary, working towards an end goal of a doctoral degree in apologetics and theology. I am also the youth director and a member of the worship band at my church, the coordinator of a Thursday night apologetics class for college students, and a 6th-8th grade Sunday school teacher. Usually if I give that spiel to another person my age, their lack of interest in all things “church” shows through pretty quickly. This can be annoying and disappointing to me, and make me feel like I’m different or the odd one out. But that’s exactly what I am; different, the odd one out, an anomaly in people my age when it comes to the things of God. I haven’t always been this person, though. I had what many Christians would call an “aha!” moment in my walk with Christ about five months ago, and since, I’ve had a brand new heart and hunger for Him that has been rapidly growing. What made the difference, you ask? A number of things including more time in prayer, really learning how to worship, etc. One of the things that has helped me grow the most, though, has been the beginning of my theological education and study of God’s word.

GAIN CONFIDENCE

I cannot stress enough the importance of a strong foundation of biblical knowledge and apologetics. These things are necessary to be able to defend your faith, which all Christians are called to do. 1 Peter 3:15 says “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..” Knowing God’s word as well as arguments for His existence and for the resurrection of Christ make this defense possible for us, and will create a by-product of confidence to share our faith. A lack of this confidence is one of the biggest things that holds people back from spreading the good news. If you don’t feel confident that you’ll have answers to questions you may be asked, it’s much scarier to witness to others.

FIND THE SPARK

Another reason for a theological education is that it will pique the interest of young people. This may seem like a simple point to make, but an initial spark of interest can snowball into something much greater. Typically the more you know, the more you want to know, and this is true of studying the bible. As you read God’s word more and more, you’ll be drawn into a closer relationship with Him and get to know Him better. In the world that we live in, we are constantly fed sin and lies and with so many screwed up ideas all around, it is easy for young people to be confused and deceived. The more that you read and study His word, the less easily you’ll be swayed.

KNOW HIM BETTER

My own theological education has done great things for my relationship with Jesus and my ability to impact others with the message of hope that He’s offered to all who will receive it. If you are thinking about enrolling in Bible college or seminary, even if you don’t necessarily want to make a career from it, I can assure you that setting apart time to study God’s word and to really get to know Him will be invaluable.

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @SarahMedicis

If you want to GET HUNGRY, GAIN CONFIDENCE, FIND THE SPARK and KNOW HIM BETTER like Sarah does - request some more info from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary by filling out the info box.

Sarah is also a musician and has been the lead singer in several bands. Check out her video.

вторник, 7 июля 2015 г.

Terry C. Muck: Seminary professors are servants of the church

In this Q&A, the outgoing executive director of the Louisville Institute shares his thoughts on the state of theological education as well as an initiative to support Ph.D. students in their vocational formation.


Theological educators train as scholars and researchers. But Terry Muck wants them to be aware that part of their vocation is to form the future leaders of the church.

To that end, Muck has spent the last few years at the Louisville Institute creating support programs for Ph.D. students and postdoctoral students. So far, 47 students have been involved in two fellowship programs. They are part of the Vocation of the Theological Educator Initiative (link is external), which is entering its third year.

“The reason they want to be theological educators is to help young ministers, but we just want to help them see that, and see that that is a skill that is as important -- and in some ways, that it’s as hard to obtain -- as the research dimension,” Muck said.

Before becoming the executive director of the Louisville Institute in 2012, Muck had a long career as a theological educator, serving as dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary. He also was a professor at Asbury and at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

A prolific editor and writer, he served as executive editor and senior vice president of publishing for Christianity Today Inc., and has published numerous books.

Muck, who is stepping down from his post at the Louisville Institute, spoke with Faith & Leadership about the state of theological education and his hope for the future. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: You’ve spent the last few years setting up fellowships for Ph.D. students in theological education to begin their teaching careers in a supportive environment. What challenges are you trying to help address?

The presenting problem is that most young people who decide to become theological educators are trained in institutions that put a heavy emphasis on scholarship and research, but not as much emphasis on the church dimension of being a theological educator.

Of course, a seminary professor needs to be a great scholar and a great researcher, but a seminary professor also needs to see himself or herself as a servant of the church and someone who is training the future leadership of the church. Our program adds that extra dimension to it.

Q: So you’re helping them understand the impact they will have on their students?

Very much. We’re helping them see their own vocation a little bit more clearly.

They get in very good schools like the University of Chicago and Harvard and Princeton and Yale and Emory and Duke and Vanderbilt and all these other schools where, just by the work that they are tasked with doing, they begin to see their vocation solely in terms of writing scholarly articles and becoming important guild members.

We think that the instinct is right. The reason they want to be theological educators is to help young ministers, but we just want to help them see that, and see that that is a skill that is as important -- and in some ways, that it’s as hard to obtain -- as the research dimension.

Q: How do the programs work?

We have two scholarships. One is a doctoral fellowship, where we pay their expenses to come here to Louisville for three two-day meetings a year to hear speakers and interact with their peers.

The other is the postdoc. These are recent graduates of doctoral programs, and we place them in schools where we pay a stipend, pay their health insurance, their travel expenses, their moving expenses, their housing; and we’ve worked it out with the deans of those schools to give them a two-year postdoctoral teaching experience that we hope teaches the values that we want taught.

Q: To what extent is your support intended to get them off to a good start?

Well, really, that’s a lot of it. We help provide them a good first teaching experience. We place them in schools where we know they’ll get that.

The other dimension is we bring them to Louisville three times a year to listen to great theological educators talk about what it means to be a theological educator, to share their own experiences with the vocation. And so we spend a lot of time and a lot of money helping them get mentoring in what it means to be a theological educator.

Q: Why do you think those resources are well-spent? What do you think is important about helping theological educators get a good start?

Well, of course, we won’t know if it’s well-spent or not until we’ve been at it for a few years.

But we hope what happens is that we’re training a whole generation of young people to fully understand their vocation, and then, by doing that, to pass that on to their colleagues in whatever schools they’re teaching in, or to younger scholars, so they will in turn become mentors in helping other young scholars who want to get into this.

We hope that there will be a passing of the wisdom and a creation of a culture of theological education that we think is important.

Q: What would you share with schools about supporting faculty? Have you set processes in place that might be transferrable?

Well, we think just the fact that it’s a program designed to make explicit what this vocation is all about will have a great impact.

We’re trying to pair [young theological educators] up with the good ones in their discipline. I think that works in any vocation, and we’re hoping it works especially well with theological education.

Q: In working with deans and working with recent graduates, what have you learned about theological education in the current environment?

The first year I was working on this program, I visited 40 different seminaries around the country and talked to deans and faculties, telling them about this program and seeing if it resonated.

What I learned is that, No. 1, it really does. Current faculty members recognize that this is an important part of their vocation that they aren’t necessarily being trained for.

The second thing I’ve learned is I’m just in awe of the number of young people who want to be seminary professors. I’m in awe of how bright they are and how smart they are, but also how dedicated to the church they are.

Our challenge is just to help these students become the very best teachers and professors that they can be, and I’ve been very inspired by that, personally.

Q: Being on a campus is always so exciting in that way -- it definitely gives you hope for the future, doesn’t it?

It makes you feel good. I mean, you hear so many stories about the challenges that theological schools are facing and the lack of money and all this kind of thing, and so you’re almost set up to expect the worst.

Then when you get into it, at this level at least, you find out that there are all these great young people that would do anything to get into these schools to teach, and that is very inspiring.

Q: Since you are retiring, I wanted to ask a little about your career more generally, and your experience. How has theological education changed since you first started teaching?

Students have become much more globally focused, not just in a geographical sense.

Although it’s true that they think much more in terms of the worldwide Christian community, I think they’re also more global in the way they view theology. They are more open to a variety of viewpoints than I recall them being when I went to seminary or when I first started teaching in seminaries.

When I was in school, if you were a Calvinist, you read Calvin and his followers, and that was that. And if you were a Wesleyan, you read Wesley and his followers. I don’t think that’s so much the case anymore.

Q: I assume you think this is a good thing, based on your own writing and research.

Yes, I do think it’s a good thing. I’m sure there are people who don’t. But I do think it’s what education is all about -- that you don’t develop a theological position until you have been exposed to a wide variety of theological positions. That’s how you arrive at the one you think God is calling you to.

I think that educational institutions are becoming much more open to that kind of general learning than they were when I was in school, when it was more a matter of passing on a single, narrow tradition.

Q: Do you think that’s had a trickle-down effect into congregations, or do you think it’s something that’s trickled up from congregations? Is there a connection there to what church life is like as well?

Yes, probably both. You know, we live in cultures that are much more complex and varied in terms of cultural and ethnic influences, so I think there’s a certain amount that pastors and professors are influenced by the people they serve.

But I also think it works the other way. I think that the training that scholars receive now in universities is much broader than it ever was before, and so it works [in that direction], too.

Q: Based on the changes that you’ve seen in the schools and the students and the church, what advice would you have for a chief academic officer, say a dean at a free-standing seminary?

I would suggest that maybe it’s best to see one’s task with these students as more than teaching a single tradition.

I’m not opposed to a Methodist school teaching the Methodist tradition and a Baptist school teaching the Baptist tradition. But I think that on a par with that, it’s important that you realize that what you’re teaching these students is a way of life, a way of being Christian in a very complex, pluralistic, diverse world.

You’re teaching them a way of life that is probably different than any way of life has ever been before, and I think that enables them to be much more effective pastors/theologians in their very diverse audiences that they are preaching and teaching to.

Q: So as you look forward into the next decade, what do you think are the issues that the church and theological education will be dealing with? Do you have any thoughts or predictions for the future?

I don’t know. That’s a hard question, of course. I think it’s self-evident that we are in the midst of a broad, general set of institutional changes -- that the institutions that govern and guide our churches and church people now are going to change in the next decade.

I suppose a follow-up question to that is, “What are they changing to?” That’s what I don’t know. If I knew that, I’d be really wise.

But I think just the fact that churches and denominations and ecumenical agencies are changing pretty dramatically right before our eyes is something that we should be making our students aware of and prepared for -- that they’re ready to address the new, and to work within institutional structures that they can’t even imagine right now.

Q: How do you think theological education will keep up with that reality?

If I were a dean, how would I do that? I guess, first of all, just by talking about it, by encouraging professors to talk about it and make students aware that this kind of transition is already taking place. This is happening, and probably will increasingly continue to happen as the years go by.

Q: Is there anything you’d want to add?

No, except to say that I’m very optimistic about the church, and that I tell my students that.

Perhaps there’s never been a time of greater change in the church, and that should be exciting. That should not be fear-producing but exciting and challenging. I mean, they get to go through this. I’m going to be on the sidelines watching them go through it, but they get to actually go through it, and I try to encourage them to be excited about that.

Source: Faith & Leadership
Date: June 30, 2015

пятница, 26 июня 2015 г.

ATLA ALUM Product Offerings

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Источник: ATLA.com

суббота, 20 июня 2015 г.

Confessions of a seminary professor

Date: June 12, 2015
Author: Brett Younger is associate professor of preaching at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta.
Source: BaptistNews.com

A seminary faculty posted a photo on Facebook with the caption, “Our faculty and all of the books they have written.” The faculty is made up of superb scholars who have authored a huge stack of books, but you wonder if a sarcastic person might suggest a different caption:

Jesus addressed his disciples, “The religion scholars are fine teachers. Follow their teachings, but be careful about following them. They enjoy talking about their faculty positions and hearing the flattery of students. They love being called ‘Doctor.’” (This is a loose paraphrase of Matthew 23 by someone whose knowledge of Greek would not qualify him for a faculty position.)

I confess that I like having my picture taken with the books I have written. I love the diplomas on my wall. I love processing in my robe and stole. I even love the tam that makes me look like a pastry chef in the French Navy.

Followers of Christ are to become uninterested in position, prestige or publicity — even if they are seminary professors.

I need to confess when I try to impress the educated rather than care for the underprivileged.

I need to confess when I act as if I should be measured by how many know my name rather than by Christ’s priorities.

I need to confess when I would rather add a line to my resume than spend time helping a church.

I need to confess when I do anything meant to make me look good rather than contribute to Christ’s Kingdom.

Seminary professors warn students that the institution of the church is only the means to the end of serving God. Those same professors are in danger of treating the academy as the end rather than the means to serve. We sin when we do not hear Jesus ask Nicodemus, “Are you a teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand?”

We can do better. The academy can serve the church, but not when we serve the academy. Rather than focusing on impressing other scholars, professors should give more to God.

Student evaluations and ratemyprofessor.com make professors feel more like competitors than teachers, but professors can be mentors. Most seminary graduates forget the kings of Judah, the dates of the Great Awakenings, and how to translate the periphrastic perfect passive participle, but we cling to the memory of a teacher who loved God and taught us to love God, too.

Seminary professors should do their jobs in a way that makes no sense if we do not believe in Christ. We understand that it is hard to quantify the best moments of what we do. The more important something is the harder it is to measure.

I should stop just telling students to follow Jesus and try to show them how.

I should make it clear that the purpose of theological education is not knowing more information than others know, but becoming more like Christ.

I should stop trying to give young ministers the tools to climb the ecclesiological ladder and give them instead the perspective to wonder what the ladder is leaning against and leading to.

Seminary professors need to keep their doors open to talk about things that matter. Professors need to ask students, “What is God doing in your life? What are you up against? What feels like a gift? What are your hopes for the church? Can I pray with you?”

Seminary professors need to invite students into their homes because Christians do that. We need to make it clear that a student’s GPA matters less than experiencing God’s grace. We need to work beyond the syllabus to encourage students to ask big questions.

Seminary professors need to be patient with students who come only for the degree and celebrate the ones who come because they adore Jesus. We need to help students understand that seminary should be less about preparing for a career than becoming a servant of Christ.

Karl Barth said, “Nowhere is the grace of God more evident than in the fact that some preachers will be saved” — even ones who like being called “Doctor.” Seminary professors need to love God and their neighbor. Sometimes that will mean writing a book about it.

пятница, 5 июня 2015 г.

То, что ты сеешь, не оживет, если не умрет

#ЭкзистенциальныеЩепки. #ЛидерскиеЩепки. Сегодня у меня с дочерью был экзистенциальный утренник: пили апельсиновый фреш и безалкогольный мохито, размышляли о сущности и цене ученичества и лидерства, делились мыслями о том, что означает принятие другого, вмещение его/ее инаковости... Во время нашего разговора о лидерстве меня посетила мысль Христа из Евангелия: "Истинно, истинно говорю вам: если пшеничное зерно, пав в землю, не умрет, то останется одно; а если умрет, то принесет много плода" (Ин 12:24). И слова Ап. Павла: "То, что ты сеешь, не оживет, если не умрет" (1Кор 15:36).

Лидерство имеет три ключевых этапа: (1) когда кто-то сеет в нас, обучая how to (наставничество), (2) когда мы самостоятельно активно осуществляем то, чему научились, и к чему призвал нас Христос, (3) и когда мы сеем в кого-то how to (служим наставниками для других) и готовимся умереть, отпустить, предоставить свободу в развитии видения и в принятии стратегически важных решений... Нам нравится, как правило, первый и второй этап, когда ответственность все еще на другом, или когда у тебя есть свобода реализовать свое видение и "мечты с Богом". Третий этап всегда самый болезненный: как отдать свое "дитя"? а вдруг...? а что, если...? И мы продолжаем гонку самореализации, концентрируясь на самом плоде лидерства, и, вместе с тем, забывая, что плод имеет и семена, которые нужно посеять, чтобы плод появился и в новом поколении...

Посеяться в кого-то -- значит воплотиться в чью-то жизнь, в чьи-то проблемы и страхи, в чье-то призвание, дары и таланты, которые, возможно, превосходят наши способности, воплотиться в ритм жизни - профессиональный, социальный и семейный, с тем, чтобы впоследствии умереть, передав эстафету и все лучшее... Умереть -- значит поддерживать молодого лидера, защищать его, молиться о нем... потому что, воплотившись в его жизнь, ты умираешь в своей жизни для своих амбиций и живешь для поддержки нового поколения...

Настоящий лидер не тот, кто покорил непревзойденные высоты в вопросах власти и ответственности, но кто сумел воплотиться и продолжить свою жизнь в другом, умерев для себя и воскреснув для нового поколения в его инаковости... И неважно каким образом: через личные отношения, как мать Тереза, или через книги, как Дитрих Бонхеффер... А пока что гонка продолжается, теплый июньский вечер, колосья зеленеют... но скоро наступит августовская жара, колосья созреют и наступит жатва... "То, что ты сеешь, не оживет, если не умрет"...

среда, 3 июня 2015 г.

Neil Gaiman: Reading and obligation

On 14 October 2013 Neil Gaiman gave our second annual lecture at the Barbican Centre, London. The following us a full transcript of the lecture.

It's important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of member's interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I'm going to tell you that libraries are important. I'm going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I'm going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.

And I am biased, obviously and enormously: I'm an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about thirty years I have been earning my living though my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.

So I'm biased as a writer.

But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British Citizen.

And I'm here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.

And it's that change, and that act of reading that I'm here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What it's good for.

I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons - a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth - how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based about asking what percentage of ten and eleven year olds couldn't read. And certainly couldn't read for pleasure.

It's not one to one: you can't say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.

And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end...

...that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a postliterate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading.

People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy giving them access to those books and letting them read them.

I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I've seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was R. L Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.

It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness.

There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is the gateway drug to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st century equivalents of Victorian "improving" literature. You'll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.

We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy.

(Also do not do what this author did when his eleven year old daughter was into R. L. Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen King's CARRIE, saying if you liked those you'll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen King's name is mentioned.)

And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world, and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

You're also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it's this:

THE WORLD DOESN'T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS. THINGS CAN BE DIFFERENT.

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved of Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It's simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

And while we're on the subject, I'd like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it's a bad thing. As if "escapist" fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As J. R. R. Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.

Another way to destroy a child's love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books.

I was lucky. I had an excellent local library growing up. I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the children's library every morning and working his way through the card catalogue, looking for books with ghosts or magic or rockets in them, looking for vampires or detectives or witches or wonders. And when I had finished reading the children's' library I began on the adult books.

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader - nothing less and more - which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight year old. But

Libraries are about Freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st Century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a word in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to fundamentally miss the point.

I think it has to do with nature of information.

Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories - they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, we've moved from an information scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That's about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.

Libraries are places that people go for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before - books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, a place that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, over twenty years before the kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them. They belong in libraries, just as libraries have already become places you can go to get access to ebooks, and audiobooks and DVDs and webcontent.

A library is a place that is a repository of, and gives every citizen equal access to, information. That includes health information. And mental health information. It's a community space. It's a place of safety, a haven from the world. It's a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.

Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.

Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are, quite literally, stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.

According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the "only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account".

Or to put it another way, our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable. All of these things. And as a country, England will fall behind other developed nations because it will lack a skilled workforce. And while politicians blame the other party for these results, the truth is, we need to teach our children to read and to enjoy reading.

We need libraries. We need books. We need literate citizens.

I do not care - I do not believe it matters - whether these books are paper, or digital, whether you are reading on a scroll or scrolling on a screen. The content is the important thing.

But a book is also the content, and that's important.

Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.

I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us - as readers, as writers, as citizens: we have obligations. I thought I'd try and spell out some of these obligations here.

I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.

We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.

We writers - and especially writers for children, but all writers - have an obligation to our readers: it's the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were - to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers' throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children to read that we would not want to read ourselves.

We have an obligation to understand and to acknowledge that as writers for children we are doing important work, because if we mess it up and write dull books that turn children away from reading and from books, we've lessened our own future and diminished theirs.

We all - adults and children, writers and readers - have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I'm going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It's this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things. They daydreamed, they pondered, they made things that didn't quite work, they described things that didn't yet exist to people who laughed at them.

And then, in time, they succeeded. Political movements, personal movements, all began with people imagining another way of existing.

We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Don't leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world we've shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.

We have an obligation to tell our politicians what we want, to vote against politicians of whatever party who do not understand the value of reading in creating worthwhile citizens, who do not want to act to preserve and protect knowledge and encourage literacy. This is not a matter of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity.

Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. "If you want your children to be intelligent," he said, "read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.

Thank you for listening.

Source: The Reading Agency

Декомунізація освіти: Церкви отримали право створювати школи і університети

Відтепер релігійні організації зможуть засновувати навчальні заклади – дитсадки, технікуми, позашкільні заклади, школи й університети, які будуть ліцензуватись і надавати освіту державного стандарту.

За це довгоочікуване історичне рішення у Верховній Раді 2 червня 2015 року проголосували 237 парламентарів, повідомляє Інститут релігійної свободи.

У коментарі для ІРС співавтор закону професор Віктор Єленський, заступник голови Комітету ВР з питань культури і духовності, відзначив:
“Ухвалений Верховною Радою законопроект 1447 є важливим кроком у процесі десовєтізації української освіти і дуже принциповою подією у забезпеченні свободи совісті в Україні. Право на створення загальноосвітніх навчальних закладів, яке надається релігійним організаціям, означає, що законодавець покінчив з унікальною для Європи ситуацією: адже в Європейському Союзі немає країн, котрі б забороняли Церквам відкривати публічні школи та вищі навчальні заклади. Ба, більше: якість освіти, яку пропонують, наприклад, католицькі університети є дуже високою”.

Політик також зауважив, що парламент дослухався до аргументів тих батьків, які мають право визначати, яку саме освіту вони б хотіли дати своїм дітям.
“Це право релігійні організації виборювали понад два десятиліття. Їм, як і правозахисникам і експертам у галузі релігійної свободи, довелось доводити, що розуміння принципу відокремлення Церкви від держави як такого, що означає суцільне вигнання Церкви з публічної сфери, є розумінням ленінсько-сталінським. Що право релігійних організацій на заснування загальноосвітніх навчальних закладів зовсім не означає торпедування світського принципу освіту, – підкреслив Віктор Єленський.

Депутат також зауважив, що засновані навчальні заклади проходитимуть звичайну процедуру акредитації і ліцензування, дотримуватимуться інших вимог Міносвіти.

Голова Комітету з питань науки і духовності Лілія Гриневич, представляючи законопроект у парламенті, пояснила важливість та необхідність цих змін.
“Сьогодні будь-яка організація чи приватна особа має право заснувати школу, а релігійна організація не має такого права. І це повністю суперечить Закону України «Про свободу совісті та релігійні організації», де закріплено право батьків виховувати своїх дітей відповідно до своїх переконань та ставлення до релігії”, – зауважила вона.

Водночас, голова Комітету наголосила:
“Щоб видавати документи про освіту, ці школи мають пройти ліцензування, виконувати державну програму і тільки як доповнення створювати свою виховну систему”.

Як повідомляв ІРС, авторами законопроекту № 1447 виступили народні депутати Павло Унгурян, Лілія Гриневич та Віктор Єленський (фракція «Народний фронт»). Така ініціатива вже понад 20 років обговорювалася в парламенті кількох скликань, але лише зараз – після багатьох консультацій і нарад – знайшла розуміння та підтримку народних обранців.

Слід зауважити, що в Європі та США засновані церквами школи мають вже кількасот річну історію, здебільшого користуються популярністю через високу якість освіти, а в деяких країнах – отримують пряме державне фінансування.

Джерело: Інститут релігійної свободи
Дата: 2 червня 2015 р.