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2012 Consultation on Orality in Theological Education

Beyond Literate Western Models: Contextualizing Theological Education in Oral Contexts Four ICM staff members, Dr. Walker, Rev. Mairori, Dr. Chemengich and Rev. Bowe attended this first consultation on the intersection of the orality movement with higher education. Held in Wheaton, Illinois the conference began at noon on Monday, June 25th and ended after breakfast on Wednesday, June 27th. There were approximately 40 participants drawn from academic institutions and mission groups who work with oral outreach and discipleship in the United States, Britain, Africa and Asia. The venue was the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. The college environment allowed for good opportunities to meet with others over meals or in the dormitory lounge. The consultation pursued four tracks that focused on the following topics: 1. 2. 3. 4. The Oral Leader / Learner institutional (formal higher education) Training field-based training programs Andragogical how does an adult oral learner learn Empowering both affirming and empowering the oral learner.

For the most part the ICM participants focused on the first track. Dr. Walker was one of two participants who had been invited to submit a paper on what ATS is doing in the area of integrating oral concepts and methodologies into its environment On the first afternoon Phil was on a panel comprised of those who had written papers for the first track and Emmanuel joined the panel as the one who had written a response to the papers. Dr. Grant Lovejoy was the moderator. Following the panel, the consultation participants discussed the panel presentations and identified issues that arise from the challenge that oral-preference learners pose to the up-to-now literate teaching/learning methodologies of the academic world. The second day of the consultation involved working in focus groups to achieve further development and refinement of the ideas that were generated on the first day. Phil, Emmanuel and Darryl participated in the group that focused on institutions (track 1). Stephen joined the group that focused on empowering the oral learner. ICM and ATS gained much through our participation in the consultation. Our size and structure make it easier for us to consider and implement change. There was a distinct sense that other participants from academic institutions are looking at us and what we do (no pressure there).

Phils contributions were greatly appreciated. Early in our discussions he proposed that in the academic world we use the term Primary Learning Theory instead of orality in order to avoid the real possibility that the term orality might result in marginalization of the concepts. Also, the term primary learning allows for a broader range of concepts. Phil has been tasked by the consultation with preparing an article on this concept from an education perspective for publication in an academic journal. Dr. Daniel So, another member of our track will write a paper on it from a theological point of view. We also made good contacts going forward. Several professors have indicated an interest in teaching as adjunct faculty at ATS. Dr. Jay Moon of Taylor University has implemented an oral learning preference tool that is used for new students to help them identify their preferred learning orientations and has taken the lead in broadening his assessment methodologies to accommodate students who have primary learning preferences. Overall, we agreed that the investment of time and money to attend this consultation was a good one. We look forward to the continued focus on this topic in the years to come.