Looking Back at the Standards of Excellence Series

October 5, 2020

by David Williams, President, Taylor Seminary

We’ve spent the last several weeks talking about what it means to approach learning in a new way.  This week, we are taking a look back at some of the topics we have explored.

We began our series with a few observations about standards of excellence.  The first observation was about context.  We observed that standards of excellence always assume a context though that context is often ignored or not acknowledged. For decades, missiologists have been calling for attention to context. The Kairos Project is our attempt to take that call seriously.

The second observation we made had to do with what we called “communities of practice.”  We observed that standards of excellence, in part, grow out of a community of practitioners trying to achieve an end or a goal. Here, the fact that educators are part of a communal practice is important, but added to that is the recognition that the community is always striving to achieve a result or goal.  Attention to that goal is essential for understanding the standards which immerge from the community trying to achieve it.

The third observation had to do with change.  We simply noted that standards of excellence can change.  This change doesn’t mean that the standard is arbitrary. It can be significantly binding but it is not a necessary quality of a standard to be unchanging.

From these observations we explored their implications for the Kairos Project.  First, we developed why it is that we talk about knowledge as the three-fold mutual interaction between content, character, and craft.  Knowing is an integrative process.  Next we explored the important contribution the vocational context/practice makes for determining and prioritizing both the content and craft dimensions of knowledge. It has largely been the vocational context of the student that has been under attended to. The privileged status of the “academy” particularly as it relates to its end of the creation of new knowledge and formation of faculty who can make a contribution to their disciplines has deeply formed the educational experiences in ways often unrecognized.  We only began to scratch the surface here, but more is sure to come.

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