ICS Calendar Title:  Wisdom and Schooling

ICS Course Code: ICSD 120306/220306 W16

Instructors: Dr. Doug Blomberg ; Instructor: Dr. Clinton Stockwell

Term and Year: Winter 2016

Last Updated: November 25, 2015


1. Course Description

2. Reading Schedule

3. Course Requirements

4. Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

5. Required Readings

1. Course Description

This course explores a biblical view of wisdom as an alternative to the theory into practice paradigm, which has dominated the way in which schooling is conducted at virtually all levels. According to this paradigm, schooling is the process by which theoretical insight and abstract academic understanding lay the foundations for an abundant life. The Christian story, however, is that walking in the way of Jesus is truth and life. The challenge to the Christian school and the Christian teacher is how to be in the world of schooling while not being of it.


Wisdom is not something that one possesses in abstraction from the actual living of a wise life. Wisdom is always for the moment, which is why James (Ja 1:5) encourages us to ask God for wisdom in any situation in which we lack it. It is not a collection of timeless propositions that we merely have to apply to a situation, as Job’s companions believed. Wisdom is always ‘knowledge for’, as well as a matter of ‘knowing when’: it is concretely and temporally situated.


Wisdom can be defined as the ‘realisation of value’, in the two senses of realisation: understanding and actualising, or (in Hebraic language) hearing and doing. On this view, theoretical insight is one form of value among many that are to be realised. It is not to be denigrated, but it is by no means the primary or most important form. And the limitation of theory is that, in itself, it is powerless to change what we traditionally call ‘practice’.

2. Reading Schedule

1. The treasures of wisdom and knowledge: Connelly & Clandinin, 86-102; Peck & Strohmer, 31-45; Egan, 149-185.

2. The fear of the Lord and the all of creation: Von Rad, 53-73; Ansell, 31-57; Goldsworthy, 129-146; Groome, 139-151.

3. Wise teaching. Melchert, 1-15; Hogan & Smith, 165-180; Labouvie-Vief, 52-83.

4. Where is wisdom to be found? Melchert, 17-73; Brueggemann, 67-90.

5. The challenge to care and do justice. Melchert, 74-111; Noddings, 44-62; Palmer, CTT, 9-33; Apple, 26-42.

6. It’s all in the timing. Melchert, 112-140; Blomberg, 7-26; Van Manen, 125-147; McDonald, 1-8.

7. Teaching as a moral craft. Tom, 77-97; Huebner, 1996, 267-275; Van Brummelen, 27-50.

8. An approach to curriculum. Melchert, 141-204.

9. A model for teaching and learning? Melchert, 205-271.

10. Teachers, the ‘living curriculum’ (1). Shor, 25-35; Fernhout, 75-98; Kidson, 151-161; Walsh & Keesmaat, 115-131.

11. Teachers, the ‘living curriculum’ (2). Sockett, 62-88; Palmer, 106-125; Barab & Plucker, 2002, 165-182.

12. Values education. Melchert, 272-309; De Bono, 112-135; Ormell, 71-78; Walsh, 102-117.

13. The formation of character(s). Wolterstorff, 3-15; Brown, 1-19; Inlay, 69-71.

3. Course Requirements

Total reading: 1250 pages (including research for final paper), of which approximately 60-80 pages of assigned readings and the relevant Segment of the Study Guide must be completed each week.


On-line Discussion Forum (Assignment 1)

This assignment requires you to contribute actively to discussion through an online forum. The Study Guide contains many places where you are asked to write responses to questions, to comment on readings, to evaluate your own understanding and behaviour, etc. Each week, you are required to post your reflections on these reflections—your ‘meta-reflections’—to the discussion forum. You may briefly summarise and then reflect critically on your own ideas and uncertainties, as these grow out of and extend the ideas you have already formulated and recorded in the Study Guide. You should raise specific questions and issues related to the topic that you feel are worthy of further investigation.


As well as posting your own reflections, and quite importantly, you are invited to comment on the postings of other students; in this way, it is probable that a lively discussion will emerge—but this is very much up to you and your willingness to engage with one another.

Course paper (Assignment 2)

There are a number of options from which to choose. You may also propose a different task than those outlined and discuss this with your instructor, or suggest a modification to one of the options described.  

A.        Case studies in wisdom: telling your stories

You are invited to tell a story, or series of stories, describing the way in which reflection stimulated by the course has affected your practice. You might describe changes in teaching strategies, planning processes, policy development, learning activities—indeed, anything in your life as a teacher or administrator that demonstrates the impact of a wisdom perspective.


     B.  A biblical view of wisdom: implications for policy and practice

You might like to write a more formal statement of your understanding of a biblical perspective on wisdom. In line with the reflections encouraged by the course, however, this should not be merely an abstract theoretical statement but will demonstrate how your imaginings may be translated into practice.


     C.  Planning for teaching: a curriculum segment in wisdom perspective

Although this task could also be included in either of the other options, you may choose to focus on developing a plan for teaching a segment of one of your current subject or skill areas. This would demonstrate the impact of a wisdom perspective, including a comprehensive rationale for the approach you adopt.

4. Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

ICS Students

Assignment 1: 30%; Assignment 2: 70%


TST Students

Assignment 1: 50%; Assignment 2: 50%

5. Required Readings


Melchert, C. (1998). Wise teaching: Biblical wisdom and educational ministry. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International. (Course Text)


Ansell, N. J. (2001). The call of wisdom/the voice of the serpent: a canonical approach to the tree of knowledge. Christian Scholars Review, 31(1), 31-57.

Apple, M. (1990). Ideology and cultural and economic reproduction. Ideology and curriculum (2nd ed., pp. 26-42). New York and London: Routledge.

Barab, S. A., & Plucker, J. A. (2002). Smart people or smart contexts? Cognition, ability, and talent development in an age of situated approaches to knowing and learning. Educational Psychologist, 37(3), 165-182.

Blomberg, D. G. (1998). The practice of wisdom: knowing when. Journal of Education & Christian Belief, 2(1), 7-26.

Brown, W. (1996). Character in crisis: a fresh approach to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament (pp. 1-19). Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans.

Brueggemann, W. (1982). The discernment of order. In The creative word: canon as a model for biblical education (pp. 67-90). Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, J. (1994). The promise of collaborative research in the political context. In S. Hollingsworth & H. Sockett (Eds.), Teacher research and educational reform (pp. 86-102). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

de Bono, E. (1997). Values. In Textbook of wisdom (pp. 112-135). London: Penguin Books.

Egan, K. (2002). Getting it wrong from the beginning: Our progressivist inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget (pp. 149-185). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Fernhout, H. (1997). Christian schooling: telling a worldview story. In I. Lambert & L. J. Mitchell (Eds.), The crumbling walls of certainty: towards a Christian critique of postmodernity and education (pp. 75-98). Sydney, NSW: The Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity.

Goldsworthy, G. (1995). Wisdom in Old Testament theology. In Gospel and wisdom: Israel's Wisdom Literature in the Christian life (pp. 129-146). Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press.

Groome, T. H. (1980). In search of a "way of knowing" for Christian religious education. In Christian religious education (pp. 139-151). San Francisco: Harper.

Hogan, P., & Smith, R. (2003). The activity of philosophy and the practice of education. In N. Blake, P. Smeyers, R. Smith & P. Standish (Eds.), The Blackwell guide to the philosophy of education (pp. 165-180). Malden, MA/Oxford/Carlton, Vic.: Blackwell Publishing.

Huebner, D. (1996). Teaching as moral activity. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 11(3), 267-275.

Inlay, L. (2003). Values: the implicit curriculum. Educational Leadership, 60(6), 69-71.

Kidson, P. (2000). Towards a Christian praxis education: some possibilities for Christian schools. Journal of Education & Christian Belief, 4(2), 151-161.

Labouvie-Vief, G. (1990). Wisdom as integrated thought: historical and developmental perspectives. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Wisdom: its nature, origins, and development (pp. 52-83). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

McDonald, J. P. (1992). Uncertainty in teaching. In Teaching: making sense of an uncertain craft (pp. 1-8). New York: Teachers College Press.

Noddings, N. (1992). An alternative vision. In The challenge to care in schools: an alternative approach to education (pp. 44-62). New York: Teachers College Press.

Ormell, C. (1980). Values in education. In R. Straughan & J. Wrigley (Eds.), Values and evaluation in education (pp. 71-78). London: Harper and Row.

Palmer, P. J. (1983). To know as we are known: a spirituality of education (pp. 106-125). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

Palmer, P. J. (1998). The heart of a teacher: identity and integrity in teaching. The courage to teach (pp. 9-33). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Peck, J., & Strohmer, C. (2000). Uncommon sense: God's wisdom for our complex and changing world (pp. 31-45). Sevierville, TN: The Wise Press.

Shor, I. (1993). Education is politics: Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy. In P. McLaren & P. Leonard (Eds.), Paulo Freire: a critical encounter (pp. 25-35). London/New York: Routledge.

Sockett, H. (1993). Professional expertise as a virtue. In The moral base for teacher professionalism (pp. 62-88). New York: Teachers College Press.

Tom, A. R. (1984). The moral basis of teaching. In Teaching as a moral craft (pp. 77-97). New York: Longman.

van Manen, M. (1991). The nature of tact. In The tact of teaching: the meaning of pedagogical thoughtfulness (pp. 125-147). London, ON: Althouse Press.

Van Brummelen, H. (1998). Walking with God in the classroom: Christian approaches to teaching and learning (2nd ed., pp. 27-50). Seattle, WA: Alta Vista College Press.

Von Rad, G. (1972). Knowledge and the fear of God. Wisdom in Israel (pp. 53-73). (J. D. Martin, Trans.). London: SCM Press.

Walsh, B. J., & Keesmaat, S. (2004). Colossians remixed (pp. 115-131). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Walsh, P. (1993). Basing values on love of the world. Education and meaning: philosophy in practice (pp. 102-117). London: Cassell Educational.

Wolterstorff, N. (1980). Educating for responsible action (pp. 3-15). Grand Rapids, MI: CSI Publications/Wm. B. Eerdmans.

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