(Image from Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach)
A central dilemma: Nurturing dialogue
One of my central goals in this class (CE4515 Proactive Ministry in a Media Culture) was to provide a space in which students could critically engage the pop culture spaces they inhabit using tools from media studies as well as their theological imaginations.
Around the Easter season, one of my students commented on a cartoon that had appeared in the local paper (April 24, 2001 B.C. comic), and in the process provoked a fascinating and heated discussion on the class listserv. This listserv was an optional part of the class. Students could choose to participate in a disciplined way, and thus earn credit for their "integrative requirement" in the class. Or they could choose simply to lurk as they wished, participating when they wanted to be involved.
When this discussion erupted in the listserv, I struggled with how to be present in a helpful way that could provide some framework for learning. At the same time, I struggled with my own emotions which tended to identify very closely with one of my students. As the discussion continued, I then had to think about whether, and if so, how, to bring what was essentially a discussion being held by only a few students into the larger sphere of the entire class.
Here are the parts of the listserv that pertained to this dilemma:
I then posed two questions to the listserv