More From Chris Gehrz’s Students on "Confessing History"

The posts keep coming from Chris Gehrz’s Bethel University (St. Paul, MN) senior history seminar.  Needless to say, I am thrilled that Chris’s students are connecting so deeply with Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation (Notre Dame, 2010).

Christina Anderson reflects on my own essay in the volume: “Coming to Terms With Lincoln.”  She picks up on some of my thoughts about working together with my students to understand the moral and political vision of our 16th president and compares my experience in the classroom with her own experience as a student at the Oregon Extension campus..  Here is a taste:

John Fea’s experience of learning alongside his students in order to understand history at a deeper level is admirable. Often an education occurs through the impersonal passing of knowledge from professor to student in a lecture. Bethel University professors attempt to bridge this gap of impersonal lecturing to “partners in the process” of learning by promoting smaller class sizes and discussions. Professors at Bethel show an interest in the educational development of their students, but a disconnect still exists with the professor being the all-knowing higher authority. I have not had the feeling that Fea describes as being co-workers in understanding history with professors at Bethel, but I have found a piece of this feeling while studying at the Oregon Extension for a semester…

Thanks, Christina.  I know a bit about the Oregon Extension program and it is indeed a very unique place.  It is very difficult to duplicate that kind of learning environment in a traditional classroom.  In fact, I would probably guess that what I describe in “Coming to Terms with Lincoln” is much less interactive than the kind of intense communal learning that goes on at the Oregon Extension.

For more of these posts on Confessing History click here and scroll down.