Liven Up Those Listeners and Kiss Distance Learning Goodbye -- By: Kenneth S. Coley

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 17:2 (Spring 2000)
Article: Liven Up Those Listeners and Kiss Distance Learning Goodbye
Author: Kenneth S. Coley

Liven Up Those Listeners and
Kiss Distance Learning Goodbye

Kenneth S. Coley

Associate Professor of Christian Education
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

The author asks your indulgence as he shares four pictures from his memory of lectures past:

Snapshot 1—He was in his second semester of teaching graduate school, and a student seated in a corner of the crowded classroom asked him an application question about a point in his lecture. The professor had to turn his back on a large percentage of the students in order to face his questioner. After briefly responding with a personal illustration from his own ministry experience, the professor panned the remainder of the lecture hall as he walked back to the lectern. In a startling moment of surprise, the new professor observed the rapt attention of everyone in the room, even the ones to whom his back was turned. In that instant he was both paralyzed with dread and invigorated with adrenaline-they had come to hear what he had to say and learn from his experience.

Snapshot 2—As the cartoonist Charles Schultz often expressed through the typewriter of his eloquent dog Snoopy, “It was a dark and stormy night.” The students in the doctoral seminar gave little attention to the professor’s esoteric ramblings about Chester Barnard’s Functions of the Executive. Without warning, a gust of wind from a storm rattled the Venetian blinds exposed by an open window with such force that all the students were jolted from semiconsciousness. The professor turned poetic and uttered a few lines from the first stanza of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” “Once upon a midnight dreary. .. suddenly there came a tapping... at my chamber door.” Without hesitation or good sense, a student filled in the missing lines his professor had skipped: “While I nodded, nearly napping, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.” Fortunately the professor chuckled at this insight.

Snapshot 3-By virtue of being a second-semester senior, a student was given special permission to audit a class on the romantic poets taught by Provost Wilson of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Such permission was needed because every seat in the hall would be taken, and the auditing student agreed to sit on the floor so that the other students would be able to take notes. He observed in many class sessions, however, that few notes were taken by those who arrived early enough to get a seat. For long periods of time, these students sat transfixed as they listened to the melodious voice of their professor read lengthy passages from Wordsworth and Coleridge.

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