Today when I was riding home on the subway, a man asked about the book I was reading. I’ve never actually had this happen before though I read on the subway all the time. I was reading Foundational Issues in Christian Education by Robert W. Pazmiño. I’m using Pazmiño as a text in a course I’m teaching.
Anyhow, buddy interrupts my reading and asks “Could you summarize the fundamental issues he mentions in what you’ve read so far?”
I said “Sure, he talks about biblical, theological, philosophical, historical, and sociological foundations to name a few.” <I go back to reading.>
Buddy <interrupting again>: “So all the foundational issues for Christian education are academic?”
Me: “Yes, according to this. This book focuses on the theoretical.”
Buddy: “Doesn’t he do anything practical?”
Me: “Not in this book, he’s got another one on practical things.”
Buddy, nodding and smiling at me like he’s made his point: “Oh, ok.”
I go back to reading.
I’ll be using this story as an introduction to tomorrow’s class on the philosophical foundations of Christian education. Lots of times we think that practical tips are the ultimate measure of whether a class or a book is any good. I think that good thinking should lead to good practice. I will also suggest that if one’s thinking does not influence one’s practice, neither the thinking nor the practice should be called “good.”
I note here that I refrained from asking subway buddy about the Arnold Schwarzenegger biography from the library that he was reading and carefully put away inside a bag before he began our little exchange. Possibly I should have asked what drew him to reading about Arnold. Was it the practical nature of celebrity biography?