Friday, June 19, 2009

Teach Overseas on a Regular Basis and You’ll Become More Creative

Give and Take
Most people have taught overseas through Theologians Without Borders because they want to serve and make a difference to the lives of others.

But is there anything that we get out of it when we go and share with people of another culture.

Yes, there is heaps that we receive and this is fine. Teaching and ministry is best done when there is ‘mutual encouragement.’

Gift of Creativity
Scientific American (14 June 2009) has a 60 second podcast that suggests a particular benefit: “Recent research shows that people who have lived in a foreign country are more creative when it comes to solving problems.”

Christie Nicholson says:
For the recently graduated or retired—or those who have some unexpected free time thanks to the recession—consider the benefits of an extended trip abroad.

A study published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found evidence that living abroad enhances creative thinking

Researchers tested the creativity of business students. Students were given a candle, box of tacks and matches, and were told to construct a way to attach the candle to the wall, so that wax would not drip on the floor.

And it turns out that the length of time spent living abroad is a significant predictor of coming up with the most creative solution.

But, it was only living abroad that rewarded students with increased creativity. Two weeks of hostel hopping don’t count.

And it’s not that creative people are more likely to live abroad. Access to different culture and novel ideas increases both new ways of problem solving, as well as the willingness to actually apply novel solutions. Such as emptying the box of tacks, hot waxing the candle to the box and then tacking the box to the wall

So here’s to science for bolstering the argument for living in Costa Rica until the recession is over!

Want to Become Creative?
Here is another good reason to contribute through Theologians Without Borders. Regular visits might well develop your creative thinking.

For First Time Readers of TWB or a Refresher
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:

Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

If you can translate this statement into your language I would be keen to add it to this list.

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound
Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders
Contact me on email at geoffpound[at]gmail.com or on Facebook.

Image: Regular visits might well develop your creative thinking.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Studying and Teaching the Bible through Google Maps

Google Maps are being used extensively by TV news but why not churches and seminaries in their education?

Biblemap.org, which hitches on this same technology, is an interactive map system for the Bible, which is being used in personal study and public addresses for visualising where certain biblical events have occurred.

Check it out and let us know what you think and ways this could be developed.

For First Time Readers of TWB or a Refresher
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

If you can translate this statement into your language I would be keen to add it to this list.

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound
Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders
Contact me on email at geoffpound[@]gmail.com or on Facebook.

Image: Google map, Jerusalem.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Seth Godin Tells Teachers: Quit Textbooks and Publish Free Online

Marketing teacher, Seth Godin, calls assigning a textbook to a class, ‘academic malpractice.’

Read what he thinks about the limitations of textbooks.

Does his solution also apply to teachers of theology?

“Professors should be spending their time devising pages or chapterettes or even entire chapters on topics that matter to them, then publishing them for free online. (it's part of their job, remember?)”

“When you have a class to teach, assemble 100 of the best pieces, put them in a pdf or on a kindle or a website (or even in a looseleaf notebook) and there, you're done. You just saved your intro marketing class about $15,000. Every semester. Any professor of intro marketing who is assigning a basic old-school textbook is guilty of theft or laziness.”

Read the entire article and email it around your teaching team for discussion. You may not agree with him entirely but it may alter how you resource your class:

Seth Godin, Textbook Rant, 14 June 2009. Seth has 44,000 subscribers to his blog. Be one of his subscribers.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Seth Godin.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Exploring a Partnership of Mutual Encouragement

Partnerships Emerging
It is good to see various partnerships emerging between seminaries and conventions across the seas. They are developing in many different ways as partners create a relationship that is unique and flavored by their situation.

It is exciting to see partnerships between different institutions as there is so much more that can be achieved beyond isolated individuals that go as theologians without borders.

Partnership Principles
Often I am asked to help potential partners explore what a relationship might look like.

Here are some of the things I often include in my correspondence:

Count the Cost
It is good to prayerfully explore the notion of a partnership so that each side counts the cost before launching forward. This can be done in separate and collective brainstorming sessions and by email.

Informality and Ongoing Openness
Partnership agreements don’t need to be written in triplicate, formalized, signed and sealed. That can stymie the dynamic nature of what it can become.

Much better to be informal and see it as an exploration in which both sides go into it like Abraham and Sarah, “not knowing where you are going,” rather than coming up at the outset with ‘Ten Prongs Pointing Out the Parameters of a Partnership Between X and Y.’

Mutuality
In thinking about your relationship, Romans 1:12 is pertinent—“that you may be mutually encouraged.” This approach dispels any fear of paternalism and unhealthy dependency.

I think most, if not all, who have served under the Theologians Without Borders umbrella would attest to receiving as much, if not more, than they gave, on their teaching assignments.

Open and Inclusive
The partnership should not be viewed as monogamous or exclusive. In their poverty, often church groups and Colleges reach out to whoever will help. This is understandable, even if it leads to a theological and educational hotchpotch.

Communication and Transparency
Enter a relationship whereby there is a regular communication about the needs and vision with openness and transparency as to the different people and institutions from where the assistance is being drawn.


Who Is Holding the Reins?
One seminary (the stronger partner) is currently in a relationship with an institution overseas whereby they are sending two professors each year over a five year period. Such a partnership is specific and has a long range so that both seminaries can plan and know their expectations.

Those in the sending institution therefore have some role in shaping the curriculum schedule just by the order in which they are able to release their teachers. This is done by mutual agreement.

It is always good to be aware of how a stronger institution can direct and be unconsciously pushy just by virtue of its wealth of resources. It is a good thing to keep thinking, ‘Who is holding the reins?” It is important that the weaker institution is always in reality maintaining control over its destiny and directions.

Partnership Representatives
Leaders of the seminary and the leaders of the Convention of churches may well need to communicate if the relationship straddles the seminaries (theological education) and Conventions (training of leaders in the churches). There may be other points of contact between respective representatives if the partnership involves things like Youth Leadership training.

It is a helpful thing if representatives are clarified and that these people are always copied in any communication about plans that are emerging and publicity to challenge teachers and trainers to be involved.

Caution and Confidence
Yes, be cautious in your exploration and don’t promise so much that you raise expectations unrealistically.

On the other hand, be confident about all that you have to share and receive.

Your Experience
Do let us know if you are in a partnership (like those that have been described) and tell us of your experience, what has been positive and suggestions for improvement.

For First Time Readers of TWB or Read as a Refresher
A general introduction to Theologians Without Borders is offered in several languages at these links:
Theologians Without Borders
Teólogos Sin Fronteras
Théologiens Sans Frontières
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
Ahli Teologi Tanpa Sempadan
Ang mga Dalubhasa sa Salita ng Diyos na Walang Hangganan
Teólogos Sem Fronteiras
Teologi Senza Frontiere

If you can translate this statement into your language I would be keen to add it to this list.

Interested in Serving With TWB?
A good place to start (without making a commitment) is to adapt this Expression of Interest and send your information with a digital photo to me.

Dr Geoff Pound
Coordinator, Theologians Without Borders

Contact me on email at geoffpound[@]gmail.com or on Facebook.

Image: A hands-on, international partnership of joy and mutuality.

Monday, June 8, 2009

International Travel and Safety Tips

How would you respond if you were checking into your hotel on an international vacation and your friend yelled, "Hey, what room are you in?"

Steve Almasy has written an article on safe travel which includes 15 safety tips for travelers.

It has a US flavor but adapt it to your situation.

Link: Steve Almasy, These Tips Could Save Your Life, CNN Travel, 27 May 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Travel Tip #2: “Never accept transportation from a person who first approaches you at the airport, grabs your bags and says they have a car waiting…”