The Enterprise of Learning

May 2nd, 2019 | Category: Columns, Here I sit
By Shirley Morgenthaler

What makes a Lutheran university? Better yet, what makes a Lutheran university truly Lutheran? What makes Concordia University Chicago any different from other private universities in the surrounding area, or from the system of public universities scattered across the state? What makes us any different from universities larger than us? Smaller than us? In another country? Halfway around the world? What makes us different? Our grounding in Lutheran theology. Our cadre of Lutheran professors serving as Ministers of the Gospel. These ministers serve across the university, not only in the expected places such as the theology and music departments or the Lutheran Teacher Education program and other ministry-based programs. These ministers can be found in each of the five colleges of the university, from business to teacher education, from graduate school to the college of innovation or the college of arts and sciences. We are everywhere. But we are not alone. We are surrounded by a virtual army of professors, all with their strong commitments to Lutheran higher education and to modeling an ethical and spiritually grounded worldview and teaching perspective. We are strong and getting stronger.

The articles and authors we present to you in this issue seem, upon reflection, to be centered around a worldview perspective, a perspective that can only help us grow and cause us to deepen our understanding of the Lutheran university in general and of this university in particular.

Ardelle Pate and Joy Mullaney present a thought-provoking look at the soul of the university. It’s that soul that makes us Christian. It’s that soul that makes us Lutheran. Their analysis of the soul and of its health in the university is one you will want to ponder. Claudia Santin and Kathryn Hollywood examine the perspectives of the development of ethical business leaders in the undergraduate and graduate programs of the College of Business. As you read their thoughtful analysis, you will begin to appreciate the challenges of the university throughout its many programs.

Glenn Schlichting presents another ethical perspective in his article on efficacy in the schools. This leadership challenge is more similar to than different from the challenge discussed by Santin and Hollywood. From yet another perspective, Kimberly Sekulich discusses building assessment frameworks in classrooms and in schools. Her presentation of curriculum-and-assessment is as virtually one word and one concept, to be considered together by principals and program leaders throughout the schooling enterprise in this nation and across the globe.

Leadership also can be, and is, found in the classroom as teachers lead the learning of young children, elementary students, middle-school students, high-school students and beyond. For teachers to lead learning at any level, their first task is to understand the process of learning within the learners he or she is teaching. I move from editor to author in an article on change and learning. All learning produces change. It is how teachers understand and support that change that matters. Understanding the change that learning brings has been a topic of study over the decades at CUC.  In a visit from the past, J.E. Potzger gives us an in-depth view of the learning process.  His perspective is thoughtful and thorough. What is most interesting about his article is that it was originally published 90 years ago in the Lutheran School Journal, the precursor to our Lutheran Education Journal. This look back in time brings with it an appreciation of the perspectives of the past. While some things have changed, many things have stayed the same.

Being in the teaching and learning business is, of itself, not enough. It has never been enough. The leaders and professors of this institution from its beginnings as the Addison Evangelical Lutheran Teachers Seminary with a single focus on Lutheran schools to its multiplicity now as Concordia University Chicago have always known and modeled that teaching and learning are not enough. It is how that enterprise is carried out that matters. The soul matters. Ethics matters. Efficacy and self-confidence matter. Assessment of teaching and learning matters. Learning itself matters.

Concordia University Chicago is different. It has always been different. That difference comes from attention to both kingdoms of the world. The kingdom of the spiritual and the kingdom of the public. Those may not be the words and phrases used by Martin Luther when he coined the concept of the Two Kingdoms, but they are the essence of that concept. We stand with a foot in the world and a foot in the kingdom of God. We are ministers, spiritual representatives of our God, who also study and teach, on a daily basis, the nitty-gritty.

Once upon a time, and for more than a century, our focus was on Lutheran Teacher Education. That wasn’t a fairy-tale time. It was an important reality. Now our reality has changed. We are five colleges within one university. Our full-time faculty has more than doubled over the past three decades. We offer programs at all levels of university learning. Undergraduate, master, and doctoral students alike come to learn and to grow. We welcome students from across the globe. More than 1,000 of our students come from countries outside our borders and outside our hemisphere. What a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God! What an interesting challenge of learning, teaching, and Christ-like relationships! I like to think that heaven will look more similar to, than different from. the faces I see in my classes and in my mentoring of doctoral students.

With this issue, we welcome an Assistant Editor to this journal of learning and teaching. Dr. Dan Gard, our president and journal publisher, has appointed Dr. Kimberly Lavado to this position. Her experience in Lutheran schools as both teacher and principal make her well qualified to take on the role of assistant editor. Together we will continue the task of gathering the best thinking of our faculty as well as our doctoral students. This gathering of thinking, of learning, of research and analysis is not that different from the gathering of ideas begun by Dr. Johann Wilhelm Christof Lindemann, our first president, in the first volume of this journal 155 years ago. Welcome to the gathering of ideas in this issue. LEJ