Friday, September 29, 2006

Transformational Teaching Approach

(Written by Rev Dele Kolade)


In this paper, a conscious and critical attempt will be made to explore the nitty gritty of teaching and learning with the sole aim of evolving a transformational approach into the enterprise of teaching and learning for today.
Alternative dynamics will be sought as a replacement or complimentary effort to revamping the lost grip of our educational system and it’s repositioning to ensure for its ability to bring about dramatic transformational changes not only to the learner but to the teacher as well.
Basically speaking, the whole concept of transformational teaching and learning seeks to bring about a careful integration of acquisition of transformational data, understanding meaning, emancipatory knowing [through critical self reflection], which makes teaching learning open-ended and venturing beyond the culturally-shaped expectations.


Legions of teaching-learning scenario and encounters in the scripture clearly depict transformational approach and result. The teaching situation in the bible majorly present undisputable attention at allowing God reframe our perspectives and coming to embrace His will as good, pleasing and wise and consequently experiencing transformation.
One lucid example of a transformational teaching-learning experience in the Bible is Luke 24; the Emmaus pair. In this scenario, these disciples mere challenged to reexamine factual data as it relate to Christ and construct new assumptions about suffering, death and the Messiah. Christ helped them connect truth to form new insight. Their way of seeing, interpreting and value setting was altered, there was complete overhauling of their being, a dramatic change of their perspective. As a result of that teaching-learning encounter, their relationship with truth, with each other and with the other believers is reconstructed—all is transformed. Within their limited reality, there is clear evidence that they encountered the living Christ, faced with counter facts to everything they previously knew, experienced, believed, hope and were. They believed! A new “reality” was birthed.
The great error of our teaching and learning process today is the wrong attitude of trying to get people to do without necessarily changing what they really believe. Much of our activities today are geared toward collecting and conveying information without actually effecting transformation.
In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul presents what can be called emancipatory learning which should result in some active response that expresses the re-orientation or integration that has taken place as a result of learning which is beyond objective informational data.
Jesus expectation or evaluation of those who have learnt is the display of transformational actions Jesus confronts Martha’s resistance to rolling away the stone by asking: “Did I not tell you that if you believed (an issue they had already worked through) you would see the glory of God?” (Jn.11:40) Jesus was expecting a transformational response or action as an authentication of Martha’s belief, the result that was lacking in Martha’s attitude to the situation.
In Mark 6:52, as Jesus encountered the terror struck disciples on the lake, he expressed amazement that they had learnt nothing from the previous magnificence of the feeding of the 5,000. He attributed this to “harden hearts”. Jesus’ approach to teaching and learning was both emancipatory and transformational. His words and miracles were to cause people to question their values, assumptions and lifestyles. Transformation is most possible when we are experiencing disequilibrating situations of crisis, questioning, facing situations that is out of our control or in our “aha” moments of insight into self, the nature of reality and the wisdom of living out the truth.


Transformational teaching and learning is principally built on the readiness to objectively examine our assumptions and the paradigms that will challenge our comfort, control and concepts- the evidence is the transformed actions emanating from the emancipatory experience of learning. The goal of transformational teaching and learning is to recognize and live in the reality of truth. We therefore teach to enable people to come to the transformational knowledge of truth. This therefore has definite implication for how we teach, what we teach and the purpose of our teaching. The clear invitation of this approach is into a relationship with the truth leading into a transformation of our whole person where it is impossible to separate perspective, insight, feeling, action, etc. The great paradigm shift therefore concerns with the challenge of creating an environment in which truth can be known as “personal” and this is integral to transformation. As long as truth remains an “impersonal”, conceptual, theoretical, objectified reality apart from me, I will find it difficult to be transformed by it. For this to be possible, it is therefore necessary for the teaching-learning situation to be packaged in a way by which experiences can be provided or presented in both formal and inner logic. Learning must be seen as both rational and intuitive. The transformational teacher therefore bridges two realms- the scientifically provable world of reasoning, and the transcendental world of the spiritually mystical. The traditional approach of categorization and dichotomization will not enhance holistic transformation because learning presented by such approach is easily distorted.
Teaching for transformation can therefore be said to help make one far more aware of the necessity of God. It involves an interactive listening, response, residing before God in openness and not just the preparation of content for delivery. It is the readiness of the human to back out of the limelight and allows God take front and center. The focus is neither on the messenger nor the message but on the source and creator. Mulholland Robert captured this more clearly in his book “Shape by the Word”, by questioning our traditional one way approach to teaching and learning: “We have a deeply ingrained way of reading in which we are masters of the material we read… our general mode of reading is perceive the text as an object “out there” over which we have control. We control our approach to the text; we control our interaction with the text upon our lives. This mode of reading is detrimental to the role of scripture in spiritual formation… there is an imbalance in the role of rational, cognitive dynamics in our lives. The problem with such an imbalance is that it enables us to stand back from whatever we encounter, to stand independent of it, to evaluate it in the light of our own best judgment, and then make some kind of decision on how we are going to deal with it”. 1. (Mulholland 1985, 21-23)
What Mulholland posits is not only true with our approach to reading scripture alone but also generally of our attitude toward the whole enterprise of teaching and learning. Transformational teaching is not only seeking to expose learner to the truth but help learner respond to it and acknowledge in interactive relationship the source of true knowledge. An encounter with truth will make learner not to remain aloof and untouched but respond actively in affirmation of it.We should see how best we can imbibe the transformational teaching approach and strategies to our teaching, especially in the church setting.

Written by

Rev Dele Kolade


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