Transforming practice

‘It is so good to be here together.’ That was the verdict of the Associate Tutors attending the annual SEI Staff Residential at the Conforti Centre, Coatbridge last week. This is the first time in three years that it has been possible to hold the event – one which seeks to thank the members of the staff team for, and support them in, their work through the year – in person. And what a difference it made. Seated at round tables, old friendships were renewed and new ones formed, good practice was shared, and ways of enhancing the green and inclusive agendas of the Institute were suggested and discussed.

In this we were led by two keynote speakers, Dr Selina Stone, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Theological Education at Durham University, and Dr Ken Farrimond, Virtual Learning Environment and Blended Learning Officer, National Ministry Team. Dr Stone, speaking via Zoom, challenged us to develop an ever-deepening liberative ethos in both our teaching content and methods by using a thoughtful reading of the Moses narrative and the heuristic device of ‘fugitivity’, the coexistence of freedom and ‘unfreedom’ in individuals who refuse to be objectified or reduced. Dr Farrimond urged us to embrace more fully a flipped classroom approach to teaching, sharing ways of making video content for such use. Finally Richard and Anne updated Associate Tutors on ‘Greening the Curriculum’, helping us all to think about how we might incarnate this attitude in the teaching of our own subject areas and our modelling to the students of ethical discipleship.

Dr Alistair Mason, Associate Tutor and Chair of the Exam Board, is an old-timer as regards these events. He writes:

Some things do not change: Mike and Linda coped effortlessly with emergency adjustments caused by train disruptions; dear Conforti tried to feed us up as if we were a teenage football team. Some good things were even better: I’m used to Ken simply in boffin mode, but this time we saw more of him, and he is a good teacher of theology too. There were scary novelties, like the liturgical use of mobile phones, and marvellous novelties, like more than half of the tutors being new to me – and they were delightfully diverse. My one real sorrow was this was Anne’s last residential.

Those who had not been at such events before comprised the Revd Dr John Carswell, Minister of Cadzow Parish Church, a member of the Church of Scotland’s Theological Forum and Associate Tutor in Ministry and Mission; the Revd Canon Peter Moger, Priest-in-Charge, St Peter’s Stornoway, Associate Tutor in Liturgy; Dr Joel Pierce, Administrator for Christ’s College, University of Aberdeen and Associate Tutor in Christian Ethics; the Rt Revd Dr Keith Riglin, Bishop of Argyll and The Isles and Associate Tutor in Christian Doctrine; the Revd Dr Anna-Claar Thomassen, Associate Tutor in Christian Doctrine; the Revd Keith Thomassen, Rector, St Ninian’s, Troon, Associate Tutor in Ministry and Mission; and the Revd Canon Christoph Wutscher, Rector, Holy Trinity Church, Stirling, Associate Tutor in Liturgy. The latter writes:

It was so good to be part of the residential and meet with colleagues old and new. An excellent and insightful 24h with helpful input from both speakers and conversation and discussion among the cohort of tutors and core staff. It is good to be able to put not only a ‘Zoom’ face to names, but also meet people in person. I shall be looking forward to the next one!

Let’s just hope there doesn’t need to be a three-year gap again!

Photo courtesy of Richard Tiplady