I’m convinced that I am well suited for online seminary education. My current pursuit is for a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) in Pastoral Counseling. This will be my third degree obtained online. First, my master and doctor of business administration degrees were all earned online, and half of my undergrad was earned online. Although it has been four years since completing my doctorate, I feel that the self-directed learning skills are still present. Additionally, with my current experience as an adjunct graduate-level finance professor, I have a sense of what’s expected and the ability to time my workload efficiently. Although my educational background is quantitative and less reliant on word interpretation, the academic rigor is present, and according to Lowe and Lowe, adult learners are able to learn anything to which they set their mind.
The self-directed characteristic that already mark my approach to learning include taking initiative without direction of others. In the finance course that I teach, I implement moving away from providing education to facilitating learning as suggested by Lowe and Lowe. Instead of working with students like children, I engage my students and work together with them to answer financial questions. This still will follow me throughout my seminary training, in that I intend to be proactive in my training. During my prior studies, it was the old way of education, where I’d sit and receive information with specific instructions on what to do. But here, the adaptation of the new model will be how I intend to move forward.
As it relates to describing my educational journey, I will put off the old man and put on the new as the Apostle Paul teaches (2 Corinthians 5:17). This means that I will put more serious effort during this academic journey than I did with my prior studies. With my study of economics and finance, I found myself skimming through materials, only to find the information needed when needed, and then replicate that which was requested at the appropriate time. However, since seminary is not considered a quantitative field, more effort will be needed on my part for deeper study, which brings me to the characteristic of mine that requires improvement.
The skill and attitude that will need to be improved upon is me seeing myself and working as an isolated learner. In my prior studies, content was hand fed to me, and I only received from the professors and replicated as instructed. There was not much other interaction with fellow students. I’ve already mentioned being an adjunct professor, which is a part-time activity that only requires an hour a day. But my full-time occupation is as a senior economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The economist occupation is mostly an isolated field for academic research of a quantitative nature. Most of my workdays consists of independent research, doing literature reviews, investigating interesting findings in various datasets, drafting various graphical depiction of data, and ultimately drafting a report explaining my methods and findings. It is, for the most part, an isolated occupation.
However, with this new endeavor of online seminary, I am completely out of my comfort zone. This means that I’m not comfortable doing it alone, and would need to further break out of my comfort zone and reach out the others as needed. This suggest that I will see a higher uses of the discussion boards than I would have done in my quantitative econ and finance courses. I will have to change my learner self-concept to include other people, as Lowe and Lowe suggest. Even though I am out of my comfort zone, I feel the call of God upon my life to complete this study. Furthermore, I feel that the Lord is also calling me to continue after completing the master’s degree for a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Pastoral Counseling. Therefore, putting complete effort and initiative in this is not something that I’m doing to suit what I feel it best, but something that I must do to suit where I feel the Lord is calling.
Lowe, Stephen D. and Mary E. Lowe. Orienting Adults to Learning in Graduate Theological Education. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2017.