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Outline for my Wabash-ETS 2017 Talk, “Developing as a Theological Teacher”

ETS 2017 Wabash Session

9:00 AM—9:40 AM

Jonathan Pennington

Developing as a Theological Teacher

The Importance of the Title


Driving Conviction


Five Areas of Professorial Life:

  • Teaching
  • Scholarship
  • Supervising / Advising / Mentoring
  • Administration / Academic Leadership
  • Career Development




+ Personality Types and Teaching:


Two Big Rocks to Get into the Jar


  • Being knowledgeable and scholarly is necessary but not sufficient for excellent teaching.



  • Education is intimately interwoven with Christianity and the Gospel itself.



Cornucopia of Applications of this Vision

  • Approach the design of your courses from the perspective of teachingyour knowledge not from the starting point of merely scope and sequence.
  • Keep in mind that good and powerful teaching is not the transfer of knowledge but training and leading students to see and how to see. This is education — helping others to be knowers. (See Dru Johnson’s sparkling, Scripture’s Knowing)
  • Good teaching involves credibility and trustworthiness and love, so focus on being that kind of person if you want to be an effective teacher, not just a thrower of ideas.
  • Try out different pedagogical techniques and evaluate how they worked. Make adjustments to your syllabi at the end of the semester for the next semester rather than waiting until the week before class next time!
  • Think of assessment as a part of excellent pedagogy. Don’t assume tests and other assignments will actually help learning.
  • Seek the magic middle between lecturing and other pedagogical techniques.
  • Have as a goal to write at least one new lecture / one new topic within a class every semester that is based on your reading and research.
  • Seek out mentors and have discussions with colleagues about what they’re doing.
  • Automate and delegate aspects of grading that can be and make a commitment to doing what you should do for your students.



Some Resources:

On the theoretical side:

  • Nicholas Wolterstorff, Educating for Shalom
  • Jens Zimmerman, ed., Re-envisioning Christian Humanism


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