Authentic Orthodoxy, My Philosophy of Teaching & Learning

One of the challenges of seeking a teaching position in a college or university is coming up with an appropriate response to the standard request for an essay explaining one’s “Philosophy of Teaching and Learning”.  Naming the philosophy is not difficult.  Putting it into a language that is both academic and assessable it challenging.  When combined the two can seem   an oxymoron. I often wish I can just tell the institution to “go read the blog,” but somehow I don’t think  the school administration would appreciate my 21st Century response to an ancient request.  You may be asking yourself, “how can the request for one’s teaching philosophy be ancient?”  It simply is.  The school’s administration and my possible future peers are seeking to understand a very basic concept: am I orthodox in my praxis and theory, or am I a loose cannon with an unorthodox view of the world?

It is reasonable to question the orthodoxy of a future peer. According to, orthodoxy is defined as,”of, pertaining to, or conforming to beliefs, attitudes, or modes of conduct that are generally approved.  When one becomes a part of an institution, be it educational, social or religious, one becomes a representative of the whole.  Though individualism and personal interpretation of the groups beliefs is acceptable, the group needs to know that every member holds true to some basic core beliefs.  Colleges and Universities are not the first institutions to request proof of my orthodoxy.  About fifteen years ago, the United Methodist Church requested similar proof called the Diaconal Orders.  I spent about three weeks putting into words my understanding of the Methodist tradition, history and polity, of Christian Theology, and of my vision of my Christian ministry.  The writing part was easy– all I really had to do was regurgitate what I’d learned in seminary.   The difficult part was meeting with the Board of Ordained Ministry.

It is easy to write orthodoxy.  Living an orthodox life and ministry– now that is a different matter entirely.  I finally decided my best choice was to focus on authenticity.  I was, and am, an orthodox Christian.  My basic understanding of the faith is the same as the leaders  and saints who have gone before me.  Authenticity in living those beliefs can be challenging, especially when postmodernism encourages relativism in moral absolutes.

Simplistic messages and pithy statements do not allow for real engagement in living authentic orthodoxy.    We hear of people who try to follow the “what would Jesus do?” axiom, but I think this simplifies the situation too much. Though we know an amazing amount about Jesus, we really  don’t know what Jesus would do every given situation.  The Jesus we know was not a parent with a screaming child demanding the latest gadget. The Jesus we know lived an itinerant life dependent upon the kindness of friends and family.  Jesus did not have a mortgage, pay rent, or hold a steady job after he started his ministry.  As a young single person I could, and did, emulate the itinerant  lifestyle.  As a mature adult with a spouse and special needs child, I do not have the luxury of the freedom to pursue that life any more.  WWJD doesn’t work for me.

What does work is to attempt to live the summation of the faith, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and(AX) your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27).  Living this Orthodox theology authentically not only transforms one’s relationship with God, it also transforms one’s relationship with every other being in the planet and requires one to love oneself just as much as one loves God and others.   Living it becomes a balancing act between selfishness and selflessness, sacrifice and  preservation, hope and fear and raging questions and faithful living.  When we live this struggle we come closer to truly living authentic orthodoxy.

So, what’s your philosophy of teaching and learning?


The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (2001), Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. retrieved December 15, 2011, from:

orthodox. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved December 15, 2011, from website:


~ by sideseat on December 15, 2011.

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