Creating space for context, community, and customization.

Does this sound familiar?

Bassem recently felt called to attend seminary. His friends had been talking about it for a while. He finally decided to stop putting off this call and look for a program that would help him deepen his understanding of the Bible and help him faithfully respond to this call from God.

He began by perusing various websites. In most cases, he saw that schools described their programs using a list of courses. Everyone in the program would engage in those courses and receive a certain number of credit hours by successfully completing each one. Often, the price for the program was connected to those courses and credit hours, as well. In some cases there was a certain amount he would pay per course while in other cases he would pay a certain amount per credit hour or for a block of credit hours.

After looking at all of these different programs, he began to think about two things:

  1. What will this cost me? and
  2. What courses will I have to take (and do they sound interesting or helpful)?

Seems pretty normal, right? We believe there is a better way – one that allows you to take more control over what you pay, how you learn, and where you focus your energy.

Building your journey around Outcomes, rather than courses, is what makes this possible.

What is an Outcome?

Every program in Kairos is designed around what we call “outcome-level courses” or “outcomes” for short. These outcomes are centered around statements of Christian maturity and provide short descriptions of what you might expect to do while engaged in learning associated with an outcome. Now, let’s talk about each aspect and how this approach creates space for customization, community, and context.

Each outcome begins with a short introductory statement that provides a broad overview of why this outcome matters and what you might student. Then, we list the outcome statement. This is the statement of Christian maturity to which you will hold yourself accountable and by which your mentor team will assess your progress. Finally, we provide a few bullet points regarding the types of things you might study or do following by a description of the areas of focus related to content, character, and craft. The bullet points and areas of focus are meant to help you catch a glimpse of where you and your mentor team might journey while engaged in learning related to this outcome.

How do outcomes encourage customization, community, and context?

You might have noticed that the outcome overview, statement, bullet points, and areas of focus are not rigid and narrowly defined.

That language we use is intended to provide clarity on the direction you will go, but we intentionally leave space for you to work with your mentor team to particularize the various aspects of the outcome. By giving direction without requiring a specific checklist of activities, you are free to work with your mentor team to customize your learning journey so that it is informed by your context and appropriate within your community. We call this using standards of excellence that are contextually defined. Here is an example.

Let’s say you are interested in pursuing ordination within a certain denominational tradition. That means the way you engage in Skillful Biblical Exegesis might need to include particular books or practices prevalent within your faith tradition. However, if you are a real estate agent who is seeking to integrate biblical truth with your business practices, you might look to different books or practices. Both approaches need to be rooted in Scripture but how each person practices it within their community will, by necessity, be different because their communities and vocations are different.

Traditional approaches to education require the person pursuing ordination and the one integrating business practices to take the same courses, complete the same assignments, and demonstrate the same types of proficiency.

Outcomes, on the other hand, encourage creativity and customization so that each person develops Christian maturity in Skillful Biblical Exegesis while demonstrating proficiency that is relevant to their context, community, and call.

What about classrooms, professors, syllabi, and assignments?

One of the great things about outcome-level courses is that you have the opportunity to engage in learning experiences that match your learning style.

If you learn best in a classroom (or on Zoom) with other students who are meeting each week and following a syllabus created by the professor facilitating that learning experience, there are hundreds of opportunities to do exactly that. If, however, you prefer to engage in project-based learning where the work and study you do is tied to the day-to-day work you complete in your vocation, then you can do that.

You can engage in scheduled or self-paced learning experiences ranging from traditional classroom learning to service learning to studying abroad and much more. Most students mix and match the various types of learning experiences that are available with the global network of Kairos. The key is to remember that all of these learning experiences are simply tools to help you develop and demonstrate proficiency within each outcome.

Where do I start?

With all of the customization that is possible in the context of each outcome, it is common for people to wonder, “Where do I begin?” We have developed a set of resources to help you get started. As you begin your journey, the first outcome you will complete is called “Starting Well.” It is designed to help you develop the skills needed to thrive in Kairos by taking responsibility for your educational journey. We give you a Kairos Advisor to walk with you in that outcome and that person helps you build a mentor team and connects with a faculty mentor. Next, each outcome following Starting Well has a Development Path which provides a series of conversations you can have with your mentor team to discover how best to develop and demonstrate proficiency within each outcome. Finally, each outcome has a Standard Path which provides a series of learning experiences designed specifically for that outcome.

If you have more questions, we’d love to talk with you. Feel free to contact us or send an email to info@sfseminary.edu

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