Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Equippers as Environmentalists: Re-Imagining Leadership in Today’s Western Church Part XVIII

ETHIOPIA – Early morning in Lalibela

Originally uploaded by BoazImages

After an introduction – Part I, Part II, Part III, and looking at the five mega shifts happening in our Western Culture – Part IV ,Part V, Part VI and Part VII, and Part VIII, now it is time to re-imagine leadership in this context.  Part IXPart X, Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII, Part XIV Part XV, Part XVI, Part XVII starts the re-imaginging process and this post continues and concludes it.

The Light Giver [Teacher] seeks to build a learning environment, especially as it relates to the sacred scripture. The master programmer’s approach to light giving is to have another bible study, while giving no time for people to practice what they have learned. Master programmers love to assemble large crowds to listen to them speak and often go to great lengths to put all of the church’s resources into the Sunday morning gathering to see that this happens. There is a lot of monologue but little dialogue and less time for practice, thus less learning.

The light giver living as an environmentalist has learned to activate some of the lessons that Jane Vella has fleshed out in her book, Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach.

Jane Vella’s 12 Principles for Adult Learning

1. Needs Assessment: The First Step in Dialogue
It is important to have a needs-oriented approach to learning, where the scratch meets the itch by asking the (political) question – “Who needs what as defined by whom?

2. Safety: Creating a Safe Environment for Learning
Creating an atmosphere where learners feel safe; where they can trust in the feasibility, relevance, and sequence of the learning objectives; where the learners can be both “creative and critical” in their response to the program in an affirming environment.

3. Sound Relationships: The Power of Friendship and Respect
The relationship between the teacher and student is vital. The more that the teacher can formally and informally create a relationship of mutual respect, the greater the motivation and learning potential of the adult learner.

4. Sequence and Reinforcement: Knowing Where and How to Begin
Based on the needs assessment, the teacher designs an appropriate sequence of lessons, from simple to complex and from group-supported to mastering the lessons alone, in a way the reinforces the learning outcomes. The Seven Steps of Planning: Who, Why, When, Where, What For, What, and How help design and reinforce the achievement-based objectives.

5. Praxis: Action with Reflection
Praxis is practice in dynamic relation with thought, where the learner engages in the practice of a new skill, attitude, or concept – then immediately reflects on what they just did. The process of action and reflection, practice and thought, is repeated in a cyclical process, each informing the other.

6. Respect for Learners: Learners as Subjects of Their Own Learning
To the extent it is possible, allow adult learners to determine what occurs in a learning event, based on their needs assessment and the Seven Steps of Planning.

7. Learning with Ideas, Feelings, and Actions
Active learning is more effective than passive learning and requires learning objectives that help people think, feel, and do.

8. Immediacy: Teaching What is Really Useful
Inviting people to immediately use a skill and see its benefit gives them the motivation to continue to learn more of the skills set out in the learning sequence.

9. Clear Roles: Reinforcement of Human Equity between Teacher and Student
The goal is to do whatever is necessary to foster honest dialogue so that adults can learn together – while simultaneously clarifying who has a deliberate voice and who has a consultative voice.

10. Teamwork: How People Learn Together
Using small groups in healthy competition with each other, learners can provide reinforcement and constructive feedback to one another, enabling effective learning.

11. Engagement: Learning As an Active Process
The goal is not to cover a set of materials, but to allow the learner to engage in an active process of learning by doing.

12. Accountability: Success Is in the Eyes of the Learner
In the end, the educator wants to understand if the learner has actually learned the achievement-based outcomes. The best way to determine if someone has learned is to see if the learner is able to put into action what they have learned and if they have confidence that they “know that they know.”

The environmentalist understands that real knowledge is living knowledge and finds unique ways to guide people into praxis rhythm where those who learn take time to practice and reflect on what they are learning in a cyclical way, each informing the other. They involve people in active learning, while the master programmer approach is virtually exclusively passive.

It has been noted by many that we live in the information age. We collect more information, read more books, attend more conferences, surf more Web sites – but we still lack our transformation. Could it be that James’ words are relevant to us all when he tells us that learning without doing creates delusion?

The next post, which is the last in this series, will include the conclusion and bibliography.

3 Responses to Equippers as Environmentalists: Re-Imagining Leadership in Today’s Western Church Part XVIII

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