Saturday, February 6, 2010

Seth goes back to School

I went to class for the first time in about four years last week. It was absolute bliss.

For about a year I've been tossing around the idea of going back to school, seminary more specifically. I don't really think I want to be the pastor of a church or anything but I do love studying the Bible and thinking about God and what gives life meaning (don't belive me? read the rest of my blog posts (you'll want some caffeine)).

There is this seminary in town that offers not only Pastor's licences (aka Masters of Divinity or MDiv, if you're current with your seminary lingo) but also several other courses of study. One is called a Masters of Arts in Counseling Ministries, which would allow me to get a legit counselor's license of some sort. While I do love studying the Bible and thinking about God and what gives life meaning, I also love people and relationships and have a heart to see people experience healthy relationships. So this counseling thing sounds like a pretty good idea.

Like I said, I toyed with this idea of going back to school for a year, kind of like a cat knocking around a mouse with its paw instead of killing it right away. I kind of wanted to see what this idea was going to do. Well, thanks to a few students from this seminary interning at the church where I work, I can audit a class for free.

So, that's how I ended up in a classroom last week, eager to learn about Church History (that's the course I'm auditing).

This is the first time I've ever audited a course, and let me tell you, this is what education should be. In high school and even a bit in college, there was always this focus on the grade. All I knew was that I wanted an A. While I certainly learned a lot in high school and college, the actual concept of learning was merely a means to an end. Give me that A, give me that diploma! I think that's how it is for a lot of students. I'm not going to study or read or think any more than I need to. It's sad, looking back, thinking about some meaningful insights I may have missed out on due to my focus on mere grades.

Auditing, however, is different. I don't have to do any of the assignments or projects. I'm only allowed to talk or ask questions if no one else in the class is talking (admittedly, this is a bit of a bummer. We'll see how well I stick to this; I already asked a question in class about day one's lecture). My only motivation is to learn. And I love it. The topic I'm learning about is one in which I'm incredibly interested and invested. I can see myself using this information outside the classroom and in my current and potential future professions.

I wonder how we could change our education system to make students in high school and undergrad truly value learning. I'm sure some do already. Is that because they know the material they are studying is going to apply more directly to their professional careers? Are grades a valid way to measure learning or do they merely measure memorization of facts? How much value is there in learning about topics which at the end of the day one will not utilize professionally? These are the things I'm wondering right now.

I'm still playing with this mouse for now. I'm pretty sure I will be going to school full-time (and working full-time, yowza!) starting this fall, but that depends on a few things. But I know that I'm going to enjoy this spring class.