The Big Three

OK - here it is - my three favorite books having to do with being a professor at Concordia University:

1. The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer

2. Leadership Can Be Taught by Sharon Daloz Parks

3. The Gift and Task of Lutheran Higher Education by Tom Christenson

Each of these texts layers upon each other and forms the framework for walking into a classroom and teaching. Of course, teaching is much more than subject matter - it is teaching about life and how one sees and reacts to life. To teach at Concordia University is to teach within a Lutheran ethos. In other words, how does my theology shape the way I see and interact with the world? Both Palmer and Parks come from a Mennonite tradition, one in which the inner self is held up as important - one in which conversation is almost sacramental. Is it any wonder that their thought pattern would parallel that which is truly Lutheran?

Here are the highlights for me from each text:

1. Palmer address the issue of the culture of fear that is present in any classroom. Understanding this allows one to address their fears and see them as real - and also how to work through them to become more authentic in one's teaching (and learning).

2. Christenson's work on Lutheran higher education gives permission for teacher and student to question everything -and to become a critical thinker at the highest level (after all, isn't that what Luther did?)

3. Parks' description of teaching leadership as "case-in-point" provides a way for everyone to teach leadership in their classroom - whether it is a science, history, math, English, education, or business class. It begins where the student comes from...and answers their questions in a way that teaches them the principles of leadership (which again is about critical thinking).

I have rambled long enough. Now go and get these three books, read them cover to cover, and let me know what you think!