Teaching

If you are looking for course descriptions of what I’ve taught over the years go to the home menu above and hover your mouse over the pull-down menu for “Teaching.”

Integrative.  Hospitable.  Passionate.

I think these three terms describe my teaching the best.

students at my house

One of the ways I express the hospitality part of that trio (and probably the other two as well) is by always inviting each class I teach over to my house at some point in the semester.  We live just a 15 minute walk from campus so it is pretty easy to do that.  

I strive to model a desire for the integration of the mind, the heart, and action in whatever we are studying. Cross-cultural simulation exercises, field trips, and creative assignments are some of the things I use in order to promote this kind of integrative learning. When I taught at a seminary in Philadelphia I held prayer vigils with my classes outside on our busy street corner  to pray for better stewardship of creation and to raise awareness about World Water Day.  I also have traveled to the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City for day-long seminars with my students on topics related to international development and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I also really enjoy co-teaching.  In my dozen or so years of teaching I have co-taught classes with at least a half dozen different people – several of whom were pastors. These examples well-illustrate the kind of integration I strive for – integration of prayer with study, history with justice advocacy, and theory with ministerial practice.

Coptic Orthodox Church visit.jpg

Hospitality in the classroom is something I reflect upon frequently.  People learn best when they feel welcomed and safe.  I became convinced of this years ago when I served as an addictions counselor in a Michigan prison.  I tried to create a bit of an alternative culture of hospitality in the room where we met.  George Fox University is a lot easier of a place to practice hospitality, but it is still hard to “try on” new ideas and to strive to see things from diverse points of view.  Doing so can sometimes lead to uncomfortable conversations in the classroom.  It is important that we have those uncomfortable conversations, but students will only engage in them if they feel like diverse voices are respected and truly heard.  I do my best to facilitate that.  Hospitality also involves being willing to be “guest” as well as “host.”  The above field trip to a Coptic Orthodox Church in Portland with my African Christianity class in 2018 was one way we all received hospitality from our Coptic sisters and brothers.

Passionate is the word that students most frequently use to describe my teaching over the years.  It doesn’t seem to matter what course I’m teaching, my love of learning comes out rather easily as I teach!  I think my passion is a bit more subdued when I teach in the William Penn Honors Program as our “great books” seminar classes are more focused on facilitating discussions of twenty people in the room.  Our first “cardinal rule” of seminar, however, is “love everyone in the room.”

                                                                                       – Dr. Benjamin Hartley



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