Swapping ‘Hats’ in Trinidad

15 June 2016 |

Practical, and immediately helpful

Earlier this year, fifteen preachers, including one Langham Scholar, who have all had Langham Preaching training, swapped their ‘preacher hats’ for ‘teacher hats’. Seven came from Trinidad, one from Tobago, three from Guyana, three from Jamaica, and one from Grenada.

The event, in Trinidad, was a Langham Preaching Facilitators Workshop led by Jennifer Cuthbertson from Canada with Eduardo Rojas from Bolivia.

It was Jennifer’s third Facilitators Workshop in seven weeks.

The high demand for facilitator training reflects how the number of Preaching Seminars around the world needing well-equipped facilitators is growing.

Jennifer explains: ‘Our vision is to identify very promising teachers – not necessarily the most gifted preachers! – from each region and form teams I can train to do what I do. There are some very gifted teachers in our ranks who simply need some instruction, practice and encouragement. I’ve been developing a programme that will be very reproduce-able.’

Facilitator Workshops use principles of  ‘adult education’, very different from more formal classroom teaching that most participants are familiar with.

These principles represent transcultural traditions and are appropriate for local contexts. They emphasize a learner-centred approach, include Lewin’s ‘dozen principles’, optimize the different ways in which we learn, and utilize group dynamics.

In Latin America, it was noted, Preaching trainers have also been inspired by the ‘dialogical education’ model, also known as educación populaire, that was first pioneered by Paulo Freire. Some people call it ‘redemptive education’.

Active listening is the heart of this teaching practice.

From the very start, everyone decides what will be learned. Instead of a fixed syllabus, in this kind of classroom the teacher’s job is to elicit suggestions from learners which will guide the teacher in deciding what is most helpful to be taught and learned.

Amanda and Dil during the training.

Amanda and Dil during the training.

It does not mean roles are inverted: the teacher learns, as teacher, and the student teaches, as student. Learners are not just learning theory but actually doing what they are learning as part of their learning.

For example, on the first day of the Workshop in Trinidad, participants identified from their own experience what they found most difficult to learn when they themselves had been participants in a Level 1 Preaching Seminar. And what they found most difficult to teach in a Level 1 Preaching Seminar. The goal for the week was set to gain understanding and skills to overcome those particular difficulties.

Jennifer says: ‘I’ve started using a new “task” format I’ve been working on and revising as suggestions come in from the participants when we evaluate at the end of each session. I found that having Eduardo reflect with me [in Trinidad] on each day’s events and comment on the tasks and teaching sessions was invaluable. Now, with his input, I will refine again for the next one. I’m also learning the tasks that are perceived, by the participants, as most helpful. One that has been mentioned in each workshop is learning to ask “open” questions.’

It is a challenging ideal to aspire to.

In Trinidad by the end of the week, participants were surprised by how well their teaching hats fitted!

What they learned was practical, and immediately helpful on completion of the Workshop.

*Jennifer Cuthbertson is the Coordinator for Trainer Development for Langham Preaching

By Langham Preaching

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