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.”

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAIntegrative.  Hospitable.  Passionate.

I think these three terms describe my teaching the best.  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. In the past I have held prayer vigils with my classes outside on our busy street corner at our Wynnewood campus to pray for better stewardship of creation and to raise awareness about World Water Day. I have traveled to the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City for two day-long seminars with my students on topics related to international development and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In my time at Palmer I have co-taught courses with four different instructors who are full-time pastors in the Philadelphia area. 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.

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.  Seminaries are much easier places to do that in many ways, 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.  I try hard to make even contentious conversations hospitable ones.

Over the past decade the phrase that seems to come up most frequently in my teaching evaluations is “passionate.”  I simply love what I am teaching!  Whether that is the history of Christianity in Africa, United Methodist History and Early Doctrine, or Christian World Mission I find the classroom to be an energizing place.  The only downside to this is the challenge I face after a night class is done at 9:30pm.  I rarely can fall asleep before midnight.  I need time for my mind to slow down again!

                                                                                       – Dr. Benjamin Hartley

Below are a few pictures of Palmer students on a study trip to Boston (where we also joined Brian McLaren for a beer in the hotel pub) and a picture of my students at the UMC Seminary in Russia when I taught there a few years ago


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