The latest SBL Forum is online and has a number of interesting articles. Stephen Carlson (of hypotyposeis fame) has a preview of his coming SBL presentation on “Archaic Mark” (MS 2427), while Stefan C. Reif introduces some newly discovered Genizah texts. Another announcement in this month’s forum is that the online journal TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism is now an official SBL publication.
What especially caught my eye in this month’s forum was an article by fellow Canadian and friend Tim McLay. Tim wrote a piece entitled “The Goal of Teaching Biblical and Religious Studies in the Context of an Undergraduate Education.” In this article Tim first deals with the goal of an undergraduate education, which he argues is first and foremost “to learn to think critically and to articulate one’s ideas better in oral and written form.” His second and related claim is that “the content of teaching is irrelevant.” While I have a knee-jerk reaction to Tim’s second claim, in the context of his article I can appreciate his point — especially when you think of it in light of his rhetorical question: “How often are we concerned to finish our lecture rather than entertain a question?” While I am not terribly content driven (witness the fact that I used to have a hard time getting out of the Pentateuch in my OT Literature class!), I do feel that a certain amount of content is necessary for the introductory courses. Nevertheless, Tim’s point is well taken as a reminder to be flexible in the classroom.
Perhaps my more substantial objection is to his first point. Isn’t a liberal arts education more than just critical thinking? Don’t get me wrong — the development of critical thinking skills is a crucial component of a liberal arts education — I just think that a liberal arts education should be so much more. What do you think?