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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Theological Notebook: Designing on a Course on Teaching on Moral Theology, and Next Semester 
3rd-Oct-2007 10:54 pm
Clanmacnois Tower
I went in to consult with some of the faculty this afternoon about a new course we are offering for our new degree program in Catholic Theology, which is an undergraduate program that, in distinction from the regular Theology major, is geared toward preparing Theology teachers for Catholic high schools. This course they're putting together is specifically for preparing students to teach a program in Moral Theology or Ethics. I definitely had some thoughts as to what went into a more successful, serious, challenging moral formation for high school students, particularly from observing the experiences of my friend Patrick McCurry when we taught at Saint Joe, after I had recruited him for exactly that position. But I'm no ethicist, myself, even if I know some of the principles, and while it would have been great fun to design and give this course, I would have to do all the necessary reading for the first time, myself: both assignments and background reading. That's just not feasible while I'm dissertating. So I had to pass on actually taking the course, as I'd let Dempsey and Mueller know up front would almost certainly be the case. But I was glad to be able to describe and promote the content and approach that gave students a solid, or even extraordinary, experience. Kids react so positively in the face of real content, a strong introduction to philosophical moral reasoning, grounded in a real metaphysics, because all they've ever gotten is politics: moral conclusions and programs, without ever being coached in the methods of reasoning involved, which is true of most adults, too.

But in the course of the discussion, I moved from teaching two more Intro courses next semester to taking two sections of Theology Through the Centuries, which is basically described as: "Trinity, Incarnation and Salvation in the history of Christian thought over a substantial portion of its range." This is the same course I assisted Mickey Mattox with during my first semester as his assistant, and he let me take a very active role in it, so I already feel like I've some experience with it, and I can teach a number of texts I've already used, so I'm not too concerned with my prep for this. There are lots of lessons I've already written, even many for my Church History class at Saint Joe, that are ready to be tweaked into undergrad-appropriate form without too much effort, and so I think I can manage this with my dissertation commitments without much struggle. I'll also not mind going on the market with another very general and adaptable course like this one already prepped and ready to go.

Initial thoughts: Augustine's The Confessions (Boulding translation), Benedict's The Rule, Anselm Proslogion or Cur Deus Homo?/Why Did God Become Human? (probably the latter), Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love (A Lesson in Love version), something from Luther (On Christian Liberty or some of his breakthrough material on the Letter to the Romans), hmmm... something patristic before Augustine, maybe Justin's Logos theology, and something 20th century, maybe Vatican II's The Church in the Modern World, or parts of it. Such fun! If it's small enough a group (being in the spring should help with that) I might do it more in a seminar format....
Comments 
4th-Oct-2007 04:25 am (UTC)
I think I can manage this with my dissertation commitments without much struggle. I'll also not mind going on the market with another very general and adaptable course like this one already prepped and ready to go.

That's my boy -- thinking like a real live PhD.

If it's small enough a group (being in the spring should help with that) I might do it more in a seminar format....

What's the normal numbers?
4th-Oct-2007 04:31 am (UTC)
Fall tends to be heavier with people taking general Theology requirements, for some reason, and it's a course that fulfills the "second Theology requirement," though there are sections restricted to Theology majors, which would make numbers very select, but those sections are also open to Honours students, who then can fill out the space. We had 32 in the fall of 2005, which was a dynamically gung-ho course of 3 majors and 29 Honours students who, if total newbies, were very serious newbies. I made a number of casual friends out of that lot, with my now-close friend Julie having been one of those students. Mickey said he had it again last spring and had a much more comfortable 13 students, so everyone got very participatory....
4th-Oct-2007 04:34 am (UTC)
I almost just now said, "Oh, I wish *I* had a seminar of 13 students" -- forgetting utterly that I have a class of 12. But I'm still envious of you teaching upper-level majors-only course for "very serious" students... *sigh*
4th-Oct-2007 04:40 am (UTC)
Well, the general prerequisites listed are "Sophomore standing" and "having completed THEO 1" (Intro). But like I said, I know our section had been designated as a "majors" one, so I gather there are possibilities.... The faculty were very accommodating today (although I was shot down when I offered to do the huge-time-commitment Moral Theology class if I could be awarded one of the Department's M.A.C.D.s (Master of Arts in Catholic Doctrine) for my work (because my friend Erik has more degrees than I do), or to guarantee me a writing-only fellowship for next year, so that I didn't have to crazily try to finish this year and get on the market in one year....
4th-Oct-2007 04:44 am (UTC)
Hey, youse guys HAVE requirements and a sequence -- which is more than either my department can boast for their undergrad or grad program.

Nice negotiating chops for even trying -- they will serve you well, I hope.
4th-Oct-2007 05:11 am (UTC)
Really?! That's bizarre. But then, English Departments are famous for having all gone nuts in the 80s....

As to the latter, they shockingly didn't seem to take me very seriously....
4th-Oct-2007 01:24 pm (UTC)
Hey now now -- this isn't 80s insanity, it's modern "customer service" in action -- I'd say more, but it takes too long and the recital usually includes a few choice words.
4th-Oct-2007 03:33 pm (UTC)
Ah.... The thought of desperate undergraduates coming in and demanding the politically proactive texts of the canon of great literature as any right-thinking person knows it should be – that image put a grin on my face for the day!
4th-Oct-2007 03:36 pm (UTC)
You sir, are far too silly for words. And here I am, fresh out of gestures.
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