“Teaching and learning” is a phrase we use at Redeemer to capture how professors and students partner to achieve educational outcomes at the program and course levels. Teaching and learning is the mutual obligation of professors and students to respond faithfully to the materials and methods of our scholarly disciplines. While their roles are different, professors and students are united in their commitment to lifelong formation as God’s image bearers in a beautiful but broken world.
This is nothing less than a radically Biblical vision for education at the post-secondary level. Increasingly, schools have become a providers of services to individuals and society. Society assigns universities the business of equipping students with job-ready skills that will make them productive members of society. It’s a transaction, with students on one side of the counter and professors on the other. At Redeemer, the sort of Kuyperian perspective that drives scholarly research and artistic expression also drives our teaching and learning. Through it, professors and students engage together in a common vision for Christ’s kingdom-building work.
What does this philosophy of teaching and learning look like inside and outside the classroom at Redeemer? Professors and students, across all academic divisions, work with each other more than they work for each other:
In the sciences, they collaborate in their courses on research that impacts the Hamilton region.
In the social sciences, they tackle contemporary problems in dynamic in-class activities.
In the arts, they construct a theatrical space, smooth out dramaturgical wrinkles and take the stage together.
In the humanities, they read texts, evaluate competing interpretations and discover collectively the richness of literature.
Active learning, experiential learning and high impact practices are currently the buzzwords of post-secondary education. At Redeemer, these strategies for teaching embody for us a way of being in the world of higher education that is engaged, responsible and communal.
Recent initiatives at Redeemer, such as the new core program and the Centre for Experiential Learning, are developing an even stronger commitment to teaching and learning. In developing new courses for the Core, for instance, we have been intentional about aligning varieties of teaching styles, class sizes and student assignments with targeted learning outcomes. Not only does the content of the new Core deliberately integrate key competencies and interdisciplinarity with knowledge of the Bible, Christian philosophy and character formation, the delivery of the courses is designed to realize their teaching and learning potential. When introspection and self-awareness are the goal, a reflective journal is the assignment. When principled pluralism and Christian charity are the objectives, a group discussion might be the order of the day. When understanding a Christian philosophical framework is the purpose of a class, a lively lecture fits the bill.
Ultimately, we believe that responsible teaching reflects the selfless love, single-minded purpose, profound care and sometimes firmness with which Jesus taught. Responsible learning involves the child-like wonder, delightful discovery, sincere commitment and even dogged determination with which God’s people unfold the wonders of His world. The aim is to match the spectrum of diverse characteristics of teacher and learner with the means and methods of teaching and learning. That’s a tall order, but it’s one we’re committed to deliver at Redeemer.
Ben Faber is Assistant Professor of English. As Redeemer’s Director of Teaching & Learning, he is also involved in the professional development of faculty