Beyond books, papers, and theological concepts, the leaders at IGSL strive to be a school of true transformation and preparation for leaders who will continue learning and serving effectively in their various contexts long after graduation. This desire was fanned into flame during a four-day educational workshop given to the faculty of IGSL in January by Dr. Perry Shaw, Professor of Christian Education at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Beirut, Lebanon.
“The purpose of education is learning, not teaching,” stated Dr. Perry Shaw. “And the real learning outcome is what will be seen 10 years from now.”
Dr. Shaw speaks and trains from first-hand experience. He is the author of Transforming Theological Education, a book he wrote as a reflection on the educational journey he and the faculty undertook at ABTS. In 2007, Dr. Shaw explained, the faculty at ABTS realized they were producing students who were more passionate about academia than ministering to people. This painful realization and conviction led to a major curriculum revision at ABTS and a paradigm shift from traditional educational methods to a more integrated, learner-centered approach. Dr. Shaw states that these changes led to a “positive and exciting” transformation in the faculty and students at ABTS. He wrote his book and conducts seminars in the desire to encourage and equip theological schools around the world which seek to prepare effective leaders for the future.
Dr. Paul Lee, Professor of Intercultural Studies at IGSL, stated that he was very encouraged by the relevance of the seminar. “It was confirming what we are doing here at IGSL. Teaching is not just monologue, but is more interaction with our students.”
IGSL Academic Dean, Dr. Mona Bias shared that the seminar helped her “in preparing my syllabi to relate to the purpose and mission of our school. We should focus on our students’ learning, not our teaching.” Dr. Bias added, “The faculty is the curriculum. We cannot produce good students unless we, as faculty, do what we teach them. I need to ask myself- ‘What is the big idea of each session?’ and ask my students to come up with this idea together with me.”
Andrew Heyd, professor of Old Testament Studies at IGSL, said, “Perry Shaw helped me think through how students learn and how to structure classes and courses so that deep learning takes place. His seminar was excellent.”
The faculty at IGSL is currently going through a process of curriculum evaluation and revision. The director of this process, IGSL Director of Innovation, Carlo Zaragosa, stated that Dr. Shaw’s seminar was “very helpful in getting all the faculty on board and going in the same direction.” He summed up the faculty’s overall reaction: “We are very glad Dr. Shaw came. We’re not here just to teach. We want to make an impact.”
By Shelley Merritt (Director, Partners in Ministry Certificate Program)