Every time I walk into a classroom or workshop for the first time, I hear the voices of elders in the long, Black-led struggle for justice pressing the questions: “How are you going to bring people into the movement? How are you going to plant the seeds and bring forth ...
I am a cyclist. I ride a hybrid commuter bike to work most days and have a road bike that has taken me up mountain passes and on to country roads outside of Dallas where views of fields and livestock replace the asphalt jungles of the Metroplex. I picked up ...
What can teachers of theology and religion learn from a text on contemporary global education? Moreover, “If our world is constantly changing, particularly with globalization, how can educators support the nature of change through curriculum, teaching, and learning, particularly in international contexts” (30)? Mary Gene Saudelli, a Canadian educator with a rich background of teaching abroad, highlights the significance of contextual considerations in twenty-first century teaching and learning through this case study of nineteen international educators at Dubai Women’s College in the United Arab Emirates. Within the pluralistic context of many of our classrooms, as well as the increased emphasis on internationalization in many of our institutions, theological and religious educators will benefit from Saudelli’s insightful analysis of contemporary educational theory and curriculum through a global lens.
Divided into three modules, the first describes the context of the study along with a discussion of contemporary theories of adult learning, including sociology of education and change theories. Module 2 presents the international educators, the Emirati learners, and the curriculum. And Module 3 explores issues within the learning context: religion, culture, society, and language. Finally, a brief conclusion captures salient lessons learned from this case study with application to twenty-first century curriculum design.
Saudelli’s analysis of contemporary learning theories in light of the global educational context is of particular significance as it represents the integrative thinking that is essential for our thinking and practice in culturally-responsive theological education. For example, she examines Knowles’ work on andragogy and Mezirow’s transformative learning theory from an international and intercultural perspective, indicating the implicit Western individualistic bias that undergirds these approaches to learning. Moreover, values such as empowerment or emancipation, lauded in contemporary adult education scholarship, may look quite different through the lens of a more restrictive Arab context.
Saudelli’s description of twenty-first century learning and its implications for curriculum design is another helpful discussion. In her words, twenty-first century teaching and learning refers to “an orientation that recognizes the incredible change that has been ushered in by virtue of a dramatic technological evolution and advancements, globalization and cross-national migration of both people and information, and intense shifting of educational needs” (63). Such curriculum is interdisciplinary, experiential, balanced, and interconnected with both local and global contexts (63ff). Moreover, its design supports the development of key skills that students require to be equipped to address the opportunities and challenges in our ever-changing world. It may be instructive to consider how these criteria could contribute to shaping theological and religious studies within our own educational institutions.
The section on faith is somewhat brief, especially given the enormous impact that religion has in the context of this study, the Arab world. And while the author does reference epistemological differences in the conclusion (179), a more robust discussion as to their significance for global education would be a welcome addition to her otherwise helpful synopsis in the final chapter.
Thus, while the particulars of this case study may be unique, the author suggests that the text can be useful, “as a way to think about how we approach internationalization in education” (12). Moreover, its fresh perspective on curriculum and educational theory through a global lens is one that is worthy of consideration for contemporary theological educators.
Coaching has grown exponentially as a professional practice and as a discipline in recent years. According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), the number of coaches worldwide increased from some 30,000 in 2008 to 47,000 in 2012. Coaches assist individuals with a variety of vocational and personal issues in both public and private sector organizations. As a result, many clients have become better prepared to reach their workplace and life goals.
The field of adult coaching as a discipline has matured considerably alongside the practice itself. For example, studies of best coaching practices and analysis of coaching models abound. Professional organizations have formed and have begun to address such critical issues as training, certification, and ethical standards.
Transforming Adults Through Coaching, edited by Pappas and Jerman, provides an introduction to the history, current practices, and possible future of coaching. Each chapter in this compact overview includes material that will benefit scholars, practitioners, and their clients. In particular, there is a solid review of adult development and learning theory with illustrative case studies and pertinent bibliographies.
Pappas and Jerman acknowledge in their introduction that clarity is needed when considering what coaching is and is not. It is, they say, neither psychotherapy nor advice giving. Coaching is relational. It is ordinarily practiced with individuals and not groups. And, they underscore, the coaching relationship typically proceeds with a combination of questions and attentive listening. The results, they contend, can be transformative for clients.
The first three chapters sketch the parameters for the field of adult coaching. The initial essay by Rachel Ciporen is “The Emerging Field of Executive and Organizational Coaching: An Overview.” Ciporen provides the reader with essential definitions and perspectives on coaching as well as a valuable list of resources for further study. She also notes some of the most common critiques of coaching, such as a frequent reliance on an “overly simplistic view of the learning and change process” (12).
Carolyn Coughlin explores a major goal of adult coaching in “Development Coaching to Support the Transition to Self-Authorship.” Her essay describes how coaches, using their knowledge of adult development – especially body and mind theory and practice – can facilitate their client’s movement toward self-authorship.
Adult learning theory provides a vital foundation for coaching. Elaine Cox’s contribution, “Coaching and Adult Learning: Theory and Practice,” identifies links between andragogy and transformative learning and how each connects with the practice of coaching. In addition, Cox addresses practical applications of these theories. Brief illustrative dialogues are included to show how the theories can impact actual adult coaching.
“Coaching as a Strategy for Helping Adults” by Dorothy M. Wax and Judith Westheim focuses on the kind of issues adult learners bring to the learning environment and how coaching strategies can help them deal with professional and personal obstacles to success.
Pappas and Jerman’s closing essay, “The Future of Coaching among Adult Populations,” outlines major directions and critical issues that lie ahead for the field. They underscore not only continued growth for coaching, but also the need for further refinements, including more specialization.
These are some of the essays that make this brief collection valuable, not only for coaches and their clients, but for a range of helping professionals and researchers.
This small book is a brilliant example of grounded research that is thoroughly infused with theoretical insight and practical engagement. At first glance people looking for pedagogical wisdom might not be attracted by the title, but at the center of the book are questions of identity and everyday activism – topics that are vitally important in the midst of higher education contexts permeated with fears of “coddling students” and arguments over the value of “trigger warnings.”
Vivienne is based at Flinders University of South Australia. This book draws on her background in media production and working with marginalized communities towards social change, and focuses on research she did with GLBTQ communities learning how to create in a specific form of digital storytelling:
Digital stories are short (3-5 minutes) rich media autobiographical videos, combining personal photographs and /or artworks, narration, and music. They are traditionally created in a workshop context that takes place over 3-4 days and includes a story circle, technical instruction, and celebratory screening for fellow storytellers and invited guests. (3)
Because persons within GLBTQ communities must constantly negotiate how they represent themselves, when and how they claim specific forms of identity, and in what ways they make these claims publicly, digital storytelling offered a compelling medium for a research project interested in exploring the challenges of sharing private stories with networked publics. The book is full of descriptions of how these stories emerged, with links to specific videos referenced available online.
Vivienne’s work is both participatory and activist in methodology, drawing on the theoretical work of scholars such as Benhabib, Butler, Young, boyd, Jenkins, Bahktin, and Foucault. She ensures that the complexity of these theoretical interventions are made vividly accessible by using them to attend to the conundrums of claiming identity in the midst of highly contested spaces. She highlights the capacity of digital storytelling for reaching across various forms of difference:
bridge building is reflected in the capacity to negotiate one’s position as a part of or apart from networked publics – including familiar, intimate, counter, and unknown. Digital storytelling creates opportunities to ‘bring things up,’ to broach difficult discussions ‘out in the open.’ Ownership of one’s position in society (as represented in a digital story) is reflected in the capacity to receive and give affirmation. Further, public expression of marginalized voices opens space for others to speak as they also negotiate how and where they fit in the world. As a medium that facilitates speaking across difference and bridge building, digital storytelling evokes the profound significance of participatory media as a widespread global phenomenon. (196-197)
Along the way she defines and describes digital storytelling, everyday activism, erosive social change, and a concept she names “Intimate Citizenship 3.0,” as well as exploring issues of identity, nominalization, authenticity, coherence, and congruence in such media.
Her research concludes with four specific findings:
Institutions and facilitators can be transparent in actively acknowledging their discursive mediating influence upon the construction of individual and collective identities.
[A]wareness of networked identity work provides an opportunity to sculpt congruent rather than coherent narratives and this labour can have both personal value and constitutive cultural value.
[A]ctive consideration of distribution of private stories amplifies personal and social benefits, especially as a tool for everyday activism.
[I]nitiatives benefit from reflective analysis of cross-disciplinary community engagement strategies, social movement theory, and strategic listening across difference. (205-206)
While this book does not directly highlight pedagogies for religious studies or theology classrooms, it is full of stories in which workshop participants confront and contest religious claims their families, their communities, and broader “imagined” publics are making. By offering compelling descriptions of ways to engage such meaning-making that invite people into dialogue across various divides, this book embodies transformative adult learning and offers a rich collection of pragmatic advice for nurturing such learning.