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38th Week PhD: Theory Weary
For some reason this semester I have not blogged as much as last semester. There are several reasons for this: my mom has had some health issues, one course this semester is hard on the brain, and one course this semester is disorganized which makes me weary. Educational statistics is hard. Knowing when to use what test to determine normality and to test hypotheses is not as easy as it sounds.
The Advanced Human Learning and Motivation course seems to be disorganized in that the professor did not post for two weeks even though several of us posted questions in the appropriate discussion board. She did respond to personal e-mails from several of us who needed to know some answers before we turned in an assignment. I even gave an answer to one of my classmates who had posted a question in the discussion forum. The professor had e-mailed someone else in my small group the answer. Our first assignment was a group assignment where we had to divide tasks to each member of the group in order to answer three questions. Our group has four members so two of us worked on one question. Our professor gave us a discussion board question last week in which we had to compare the criteria of a theory given by one textbook author to the “theory” proposed by another author in another textbook. I call this being “theory weary” since we discussed the pants off whether primal leadership is a theory. Our professor responded to some of us in one day and told us she would be responding to each person within the next two weeks, but we have not heard from her since last Wednesday. Some of us think primal leadership is a theory and some of us do not think it is a theory. Personally I do not think it is because of the lack of empirical research to support the claims of the author. Also, the inventory used to determine emotional intelligence has not been validated except by the company that publishes and sells the inventory. Now when I come in contact with a theory, the criteria is in the back of my head and I am critiquing the theory.
I understand that online learning is mostly autonomous. Doctoral level classes extend beyond the idea of professors professing their knowledge upon the students so the students can recite it back. So far our professors have nudged us, encouraged us, stood back while we discussed, and stepped in when we needed guidance. The semester is not over yet, so the professor in question may be more active with us in the future, but so far she has not lived up to the kind of feedback we are accustom to receiving in our doctoral journey.
Blessings to you and yours.
Tenth Week PhD: Respite
For over a week, I have had no homework, writing, or discussion posts for doctoral work. I have started reading two textbooks for two of my classes, but I have also been reading a book for enjoyment. The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith–one of the books in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. If you have never read any of these, please consider it. They are set in Botswana and follow the detectives Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi in the town of Gabarone. They spend most of their time thinking their way through cases, traveling to the bush in an old white van, and drinking tea. If you like books that are peaceful, insightful, and pleasant, with a touch of mystery and pluckiness, then these books are for you. You can check one out at your local library (electronic or print–whichever you prefer).
Speaking of electronic or print, as for me, I recently purchased a Kindle HD on a whim. Reading books on an electronic screen is different than a print book, to be sure. However, for books I read for pleasure that I don’t need to make notes in or re-read to take a test, this format works very well. I love the smell of books–of which I have plenty. I still have to print out articles for research. Highlighting and underlining help me remember and study. There are ways to do that with an electronic book, but I haven’t figured out how to do that in a way that will help me. To me, reading for pleasure is a respite and a stress reliever. It will help me get ready for new doctoral courses this semester by clearing my mind and filling it with pleasant thoughts, well-developed characters, and a craving for red bush tea.
Blessings to you and yours.
Listen to Mr. Smith here: http://youtu.be/YhPNMIyidbA
Fourth Week PhD: Virkler and Vegas
I’ve made it through my fourth week of my first doctoral course. What does Virkler, my assigned reading, and Vegas have to do with each other? Well, while I have been in Las Vegas for a conference this week, I have also been doing my course work. For the most part it hasn’t been too difficult to do these things together, far from home. It has made for some later nights than I had intended.
The conference (American Library Association), which is my first attendance of said conference, has been super wonderful and helpful to bring back and practice in my work. I’ve learned that I am a twitter addict, introverts have quiet influence, unconferences can be successful, Alexander McCall Smith is just as witty and charming as his books, Las Vegas is hot in June, conference wifi is not all its cracked up to be, and one Starbucks for 10,000+ librarians is just.not.enough! Also Donny & Marie!
In any case, our textbook for this week included Henry A. Virkler’s “A Christian’s Guide to Critical Thinking.” The first three chapters deal with hermeneutics–“principles used to properly interpret someone else’s communication” (p. 19). While I won’t go into everything Virkler has to say about interpreting scripture, I will say that even though there are principles to follow when interpreting scripture, humans have managed to still be divided when it comes to certain passages or doctrines described in the Bible. I don’t think it was God’s intention to have his church divided into so many denominations. However, we are humans and are imperfect, so the fact that there are so many ways of interpreting scripture is not surprising to me. I think the Holy Spirit can discern who is a follower of Jesus and who is not. We are all his body and can agree that Jesus came to die for us so that we might live.
Blessings to you and yours.
Third Week: PhD To Everyone An Answer
It is my third week of my first course as a doctoral student. Yay me! This week our discussion was on two chapters of a book titled, “Foundational Issues in Christian Education: An Introduction in Evangelical Perspective” by Robert Pazmino and four chapters of a book titled, “To Everyone An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview” edited by Francis Beckwith, William Craig, and J.P. Moreland. The latter book is not specifically about education although you can apply it to that. This book is about apologetics. Apologetics is to defend one’s faith in order to bring people to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Out of the two books, I enjoyed reading this one. It flowed better and was easier to understand. This book happens to be a collection of essays in honor of Norman L. Geisler, an expert in Christian apologetics.
One of the most interesting sections focused on the relationship between Jesus and his family. During Jesus’ time, the society was patriarchal. Women did not take leadership roles and were not the center of the culture. Jesus changed all that when he spoke to women. Even some of his followers were women. Jesus also changed the definition of family when he said, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50, NIV). Jesus was known to befriend known “sinners” and forgive their sins. He welcomed them as family. We must remember that even if we have a loving family, there are some in the world who do not. There are some who do leave their mother, father, sisters, and brothers for Christ. Our definition of family needs to be bigger than we suppose it to be, just as it was to Jesus. Blessings to you and yours.
Second Week PhD: Creeds and Foundations
Another week down and 100 more to go (or so)! This week one of our discussions focused on observations of the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. I was not familiar with either one, so I chose the Apostles’ Creed. The text of the creed is here:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
It is a nice creed. If one were to commit to this creed, a belief in God, the Father, Jesus his son, and the Holy Spirit would be necessary. This creed focuses on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If one were not raised in the catholic church (like me), then one might have a problem with the phrase “I believe in the holy catholic church.” However, after reading it several times, I have come to the conclusion that whatever the intentions were of the original author(s), I believe that the phrases “holy catholic church” and “communion of saints” are referring to a unified church–a people that profess God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as one. A people that are committed to believing in a creator, his son, and the power of the Holy Spirit. A spirit of unity is what God wants from us. Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Blessings to you and yours.
First Week: PhD
My first week of my first course has been interesting. Distance learning is not what is was back in 1998 when I started my Master’s degree through a distance learning program. Technology has come a long way, although I miss seeing my classmates, or having classmates that I can see on a weekly basis.
Our first assignment of my doctoral program (Christian Worldview for Educators) was to discuss what we thought were the main themes of the Gospel of Luke and how this gospel showed Jesus as a person. In Luke 19:10 it says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (NIV). Isn’t that the main theme of the whole Bible? Saving the lost, saving the sinners, saving everyone. Jesus was compassionate, forgiving, and sometimes humorous. Luke shows Jesus as a healer. He healed a lot of people. He also taught. A lot. As teachers (and everyone is one), we need to have compassion on students, parents, bus drivers, lunch ladies, other teachers, and anyone else who we meet on a daily basis. Isn’t that how a Christian Educator is different than others. Or an educator who is Christian. Either way, be compassionate as Jesus was compassionate. Blessings to you and yours.