- Attendance at class sessions and participation in discussions is required. In a small seminar course, it is imperative. Theology is best understood when lived and discussed, not just when heard and read. Attendance and participation in discussion are not a formal percentage of your grade, because I do not want grades to pressure the discussion. However, I reserve the right to adjust your grade up or down on their basis. If you are unable to attend a class meeting, mention it ahead of time in case we can reschedule.
- So that discussions are fruitful and reading makes sense, you should read all required material before the class sessions. If occasionally that proves impossible, then read it immediately afterwards. Do not fall behind, or you will be sorry!
- Because I am assigning a lot of reading and our class is small enough to function as a true seminar, I am weighting assignments radically toward reading, preparation, and discussion rather than written research or formal testing. We will trade off priming the discussion with a daily in-class presentation on that day's reading. Here you will remind us of the reading, provide helpful context, make observations, and/or raise at least one question for us to discuss. The point is to facilitate a productive discussion. A typical discussion text amounts to one tightly written single-spaced page. These should be in prose-outline form (see my rationale and example), well written. If your briefs do not conform to the requirements, I will hand them back and you will need to resubmit them. Please distribute copies to your classmates on the day of your presentation. Obviously I cannot accept late presentations. Presentations will count as 70% of your total grade.
As you write, please refer to my suggestions for writing papers for helpful suggestions, cautions about Internet "research", ultimata regarding plagiarism, and so on. Students who engage in academic dishonesty (as described in the student handbook) will fail the course.
- Your final exam is a written reflection on some aspect of the course materials as it relates to your interests. You should not need to draw on sources beyond the course reading. You will peer review each other's drafts, and circulate the final version by e-mail to the whole class. More details will come later in the semester. Your final reflection will count as 30% of your total grade.
Having trouble understanding the reading? I may sometimes post introductions to readings in advance. Look up unfamiliar terms in a dictionary (for instance, the on-line New Advent Catholic Dictionary), or google them. If even these suggestions do not help, then I leave you with the advice of Thomas Cranmer:
"I cannot understand it." What marvel? How shouldest thou understand, if thou wilt not read nor look upon it? Take the books into thine hands, read the whole story, and that thou understandest keep it well in memory; thou that understandest not, read it again and again: if thou can neither so come by it, counsel with some other that is better learned. Go to thy curate and preacher; show thyself to be desirous to know and learn: and I doubt not but God, seeing thy diligence and readiness (if no man else teach thee) will himself vouchsafe with his Holy Spirit to illuminate thee, and to open unto thee that which was locked from thee (Preface to the Great Bible 6).
In other words, giving up on difficult material is not an option.
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