Interesting piece: "Education True and False"

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by telefax, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. telefax

    telefax New Member

    I thought that this piece from R. Scott Clark was really an excellent piece on seminary education. Clark (D.Phil., Oxford) is a professor of historical theology at the WASC/ATS accredited Westminster Seminary – California. As I recall, he is quite publicly not a fan of the distance learning concept, but I wouldn't dismiss him out of hand for that - his thoughts here focus on quality of learning which can be applied to any kind of program. At any rate, I found them very thought-provoking. This first installment of several is still fairly long, so I just included two snippets with the link.

    "Education, per se, has not always been valued for itself. Presently, undergraduate education is highly valued, judging by what the market is willing to pay, as a means to future success. Judging by her graduates, however, what is being sold to the student isn’t always education, at least not as that idea has been traditionally defined. What the culture values is the economic result of having attended an undergraduate school and having obtained a credential . . . This antipathy for genuine education appears in a variety of ways but one way in which it has manifested itself is in the proliferation of ad hoc seminaries where the faculty is unqualified, not residential, or non-existent. The problem is, since many undergraduates have not received a proper education either in high school or in college as they are considering where to attend seminary they are poorly prepared to evaluate what constitutes a good seminary education."

    “A genuine education requires a student to think well and clearly, to be stretched, to develop critical faculties. More than once I’ve heard from prospective and students in various schools that they chose this or that school because, in effect, they were sure that school would not challenge them to re-think or even think through their convictions. In other words, such students choose a school because they are confident that it will reinforce their existing convictions or even validate their prejudices . . . I submit that such an approach does not constitute genuine learning . . . Real learning is often painful because it requires a genuine student to put to death familiar and cherished notions and to confront new and unfamiliar ones. It causes self-examination and that is usually painful. It requires the acquisition not only of new skills, which can be difficult, but it also requires the formation of new ways of thinking which is never easy. True education is a counter-cultural undertaking. One must break from the prevailing culture of “busy-ness” and enterprise (whether commercial or religious) in order to become educated because real learning takes time, patience, and sacrifice.”​

    Oh, and since someone will undoubtedly wonder, I have no affiliation with WSC.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2009
  2. telefax

    telefax New Member

    One more time from Clark

    From the 3rd installment on accreditation,

    "Imagine sending a child to a physician whose degree was not recognized by the American Medical Association. Does this mean that the prospective physician is necessarily a quack? No, but it does increase the probability. Just as most of us are not qualified to work on today’s high-tech cars, most prospective students (and their consistories/sessions) probably are not expert in educational administration. They may not be aware of all the moving parts that help a school to function. The accreditation process is designed to check all those moving parts (while they are moving!) to make sure that everything is in place. For that process a school produces an extensive series of reports. The visiting teams meet with the administration, the board, the faculty, and others to evaluate comprehensively whether a school is operating well and serving its students faithfully. In turn, the visiting teams produce their own reports. Accrediting agencies also produce annually a volume that records what is really happening in a seminary, how many students are actually enrolled and other relevant facts. The variance between what some schools report to the accreditation agencies and what they say in their publicity can be interesting to note. Students considering an unaccredited school should think carefully about whether there is a legitimate reason for a school not being accredited or whether a school lacks a real accreditation (i.e. one recognized by the Department of Education) because it is simply a poor school and thus, likely, a waste of money."​

    Interestingly, when this board started, there was a small number of religious schools which were unaccredited because of their geniuinely separatist views (which I don't share, but can distinguish from the apologia of the substandard unaccredited outfits.) Yet the graduates of those schools routinely got into accredited doctoral programs. In other words, schools like Central Baptist Theological Seminary (MN) and Bob Jones University were treated as if they were accredited for admissions purposes because their academic rigor had been established over many years. However, those schools have now received accreditation (both TRACS, I believe). The accreditation issue has become far more black and white in this field than it used to be.

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