Kairos Series: CBTE As a Platform, Pt. 3

December 28, 2020

by Greg Henson, President

We have been talking about the principles and practices of competency-based theological education (CBTE). Over the past few weeks, we have been exploring the three aspects of a platform: the operational or business model, the power structure, and the educational philosophy. This week, we will go over the third aspect: the educational philosophy.

Educational Philosophy

When power is held within the hands of a few people and a school is the sole provider of educational content, formational experiences, and practical tools, an input-based educational philosophy begins to emerge. Such a philosophy tends to be built around the idea that quality is maintained by controlling who is providing content and the way in which that content is delivered. This approach to education begins to reinforce the idea that theological education is something that happens at a school when particular types of people are present. As purveyors of content, schools begin to place rigid structures around things like credit hours, organizational structures, governance, teaching styles, etc. These structures tend to reinforce the “contributor” power dynamics mentioned above.

Alternatively, CBTE is an educational philosophy that measures quality and progress through demonstrable outcomes rather than input. This philosophical shift is what creates the empowering dynamics of a platform. By focusing on outcomes and using a development process to encourage contextualized definitions of proficiency that are informed by the broader tradition of the Church, CBTE creates a new space for students, mentors, participants, partners, creators, and developers to collaborate. Which brings us back to the importance of principles and practices.

In the next few articles, I will dive more deeply into the principles and practices of CBTE. They are what undergird this educational philosophy and therefore what make possible a platform approach to theological education.

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