Why do you work as the Dean of the Faculty of Education at Tabor?
(Laughs) – Because God and my colleagues ganged up on me and made me! Tabor’s CEO originally called me ‘the reluctant leader’, and it really is only by God’s strength and grace that I have come to a place of peace in this role. I am a teacher – by heart, by essence, by God’s design – and leadership, and its accompanying politics, means I teach much less. But I also love challenges and I love learning; both of which are plentiful in leadership. Five years in, I’m beginning to accept my amazing team’s assurance that I’m an excellent leader - perhaps that is partly because I don’t think I am!
What qualities do you think most prepared you for being a teacher educator?
Life, really! It’s a long story but I have always moved into jobs (Army, Correctional Services, teaching in private and Christian schools) as I have felt specifically led by God. Teacher educating is no different; I received a vision of teacher training and clear direction. I didn’t think I’d ever work in Christian education, let alone Tabor, but God’s ways are frequently not our ways! Previous work experience and faith development all gave me knowledge, skills and understandings that prepared me well. My thinking style is big picture and detail, logic and creativity, outside the box. I have a gift and a deep love of learning and teaching, and a passion for justice. I respect the power of education, combined with the purposes of God, to transform people, and to enable justice in society.
The concept of metacognition (thinking about thinking) is continuing to be explored as a key component of effective teaching and learning. How are you able to engage tertiary level pre-service teachers in higher order thinking, while still underpinning Tabor’s Christian worldview?
Like CS Lewis, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Alister MacIntyre, I see higher order thinking as pre-requisite for developing a robust and transformational worldview; and the meaningfulness and relevance to all of life of a Christian worldview should motivate us to higher order thinking.
Perhaps my PhD is a useful example. I applied critical theory and research principles to investigate Secondary Christian school teachers’ understanding of justice. The findings and recommendations hopefully challenge and enable Christian teachers’ deeper conceptual and biblical understandings of justice. Although slightly idealistic, if such understandings ripple through their pedagogy, then in teaching justly for just learning outcomes, justice may more readily ‘…roll on like a river’ (Amos 5:24) through future generations.
Tell us about three key characteristics that you hope Tabor teacher graduates will take with them into the classroom.
My desire is for cognitively, emotionally and spiritually intelligent and thoughtful teachers to work in every educational sector. It’s a thrill to see some of our graduates beginning to return to Tabor as lecturers! They require humility in critical thinking, enabling them to understand, appreciate and articulate their faith-based beliefs and values. A heart for justice and hospitality (the embodiment of Micah 6:8). And a striving for authenticity and integrity (I know that’s two but in Parker Palmer style, I think they are inseparable).
What do you read? And what music do you listen to?
My reading and music tastes are eclectic. I firmly believe romance and horror publications should travel to a galaxy far, far away – but apart from that, I read all genre. I dabble in short story and poetry writing. My favourite poet is Gerard Manley Hopkins, but I also have a modern poetry anthology by Jewel, to which I often return. I can’t find a device big enough to store the range of music I like – but my fav band of all time is Hootie & the Blowfish! What?! Surely you know who they are?