Five Things With a
Seminary Education Professor
This month we begin a new series of articles entitled “Five Things.” Each month, we’ll interview a practitioner of Christian adult education to learn about their educational philosophy, books they’ve read, advice they’d give to other educators, and their perspectives on teaching the Word. This month features Professor Tom Kock, who teaches Education at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

Prof. Kock served for 22 years in Johnson City, Tennessee, as the first pastor for Living Word Lutheran Church. In 2014 he came to the seminary as professor of Education and Old Testament. He has obtained a master’s degree in adult education at Indiana University. Tom and his wife, Beth, have four children and three in-laws.

They never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 5:42
Adult Education: Additum
Are You Teaching With One Eye?

Mudge, P. (2015). "‘In the Land of the blind, the One-eyed is King’: Some Pedagogical Foundations for Deep, Practical Online Student Learning." Journal of Adult Theological Education, 12 (2), 106-120.

In this article, Peter Mudge reminds readers that those who claim perfect sight are often the ones who miss the significant and obvious all around them. (Remember the New Testament Pharisees?) The seeing/blindness analogy manifests itself in veteran teachers as we “see” one teaching framework and focus on that, while other significant and obvious methodologies remain in our “blind spots” and are therefore ignored. When we, as educators, move from partial sight to a more complete view and from surface knowledge of our craft to a greater depth of seeing, knowing, and learning, our students will at the same time be able to grow from a partial to a more complete view, from surface to deeper knowledge of the subject we’re teaching.

How can a teacher move from surface to deeper knowledge? Critical reflection. Mudge’s article is specifically about online teaching. But there’s a need for critical reflection as we teach in face-to-face classrooms too. Do we take an hour on Monday morning to evaluate our Sunday Bible class according to a set rubric? (For example, did our learning activities focus on SETPI principles?) How can we improve the lesson for future iterations? Do we go ahead and make those changes right away? We might think of it in terms of Bloom’s taxonomy. Just as students grow when they move beyond simple identifying of terms and repetition towards evaluating, questioning, constructing, and comparing, so also teachers grow when they do the same with their educational methodologies.

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Teaching Toolbox
SETPI Principles

Check out this infographic for a review of Adult Education’s SETPI principles. As you evaluate and reflect on your lesson design, how can you incorporate more learning activities that are geared specifically to the way adults learn?

Curriculum Connection

An NPH Bible study that strongly incorporates the SETPI principles is Flowers in the Desert: Learning to Love the Prophets. Authored by Professor Kock, this study helps participants focus on the gospel that bloomed through the Old Testament messengers of God. The corresponding book from the Bible Discovery series will help your students get the most out of this study.

Teaching Tip
Lecture From Siberia

"In his book When Students Have Power (1996), Ira Shor describes the Siberia zone that exists in every college classroom. This is the part of the classroom farthest away from the teacher’s body, usually the last row of the auditorium or the seat in class by the door at the back of the room. If the teacher’s body or desk represents Moscow, the center of party authority, then the seat by the door represents Siberia, the territorial area furthest from central authority. . . . Ira describes how he deals with Siberia by moving there and speaking from that zone. Simply walking to the back of a lecture theater and giving a lecture from that location is a dramatic, powerful gesture, one that breaks with the thousands of hours students have experienced listening to, or ignoring, the teacher standing or sitting at the front of the room by the chalkboard."
– Stephen Brookfield from his book “The Skillful Teacher”

For further thought . . .
Are you pretty much anchored in the Moscow of your classroom? Why do you think that is?
Do you need to do any rearranging in your classroom to be able to comfortably reach and lecture from Siberia?
What challenges might present themselves as you lecture from Siberia? (For example, you might be pretty far from your marker board up front when you need it to illustrate a point.)
Lecturing from Siberia (or at least moving away from Moscow) can present additional benefits when it comes to classroom management, especially when teaching Catechism-age students.
 Teach the Word is a collaboration of Northwestern Publishing House,
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, and WELS Discipleship.