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Learning as formation
Learning is not something that happens only in our heads or only in the classroom. At Queen's we put a lot of effort into producing excellent academic programmes, but we recognise that true learning is only partly about the academic credits. Learning is letting ourselves be shaped and changed by the new perspectives which we gain from listening to and talking with those who see things differently. It is ultimately about making ourselves available to God.
We see learning as part of the formation for ministry which only God can do. Our job is to create a safe and open environment in which it can happen, where you are free to try out new ideas and get the chance to challenge others as well as to learn from them. At Queen's learning takes place in three particular contexts: in teaching, in assignments and in ministerial practice.
- Ministerial practice
Academic modules are delivered via lectures, seminars and small groups, through visits and placements, in classrooms and online. Writing assignments and receiving feedback are also part of the learning process. Queen’s offers a study skills programme and other learning support resources tailored to individual student needs.
Module cohorts are diverse, and include ministerial candidates, trainee Readers in the Church of England and independent lay students. Discussion between different views and traditions is encouraged, as is making connections between academic studies, ministerial formation and practice.
The opportunity to learn from others and to subject one's own assumptions and beliefs to critical scrutiny is a precious gift. Some classes are large but tutors will ensure that opportunity for participation and interaction is maximised
Assignments and their assessment is a key part of learning and formation, not just a hurdle to jump at the end of a module. Being able to gather evidence, develop reasoned arguments, engage openly and critically with other voices in a debate, communicate, explain and defend your own views, and so on are all skills that are central to ministry.
In most modules there will be a range of assignments and in some there will be forms that explicitly ask you to engage in reflection on your personal, spiritual, ministerial formation. Tutors will give careful feedback on your written work – we are commended by external examiners about the quality of this – so allow this part of the programme to be a formative part of your learning and development
Ministerial practice is developed in two contexts.
Students are based in a local link church for the duration of training. Students engage with the life of the church in worship and service, giving several hours commitment per week, as agreed in discussion with the local minister and formalised in the Local Church Agreement. Students are expected to lead worship and preach, receiving feedback from ministers and congregation members to contribute to a Worship Portfolio which is built up over the course of initial ministerial formation.
In the summer term of the first year, students complete a church-based placement (which may be a fresh expression church community). Placement learning agreements are agreed at the beginning of the placement between student and placement supervisor. The supervisor’s report is discussed with student and personal tutor, and a positive report is necessary for progression.