My Crummiest Classes

So if my top 20% of value came in 18 hours of classes, then surely I had a bottom 20%, too?

You bet I did. Here they are:
Old and New Testament (Four classes, 12 hrs) – Here the culprit was poor instructors. I had dithering graduate students for two of the four classes, and a stuffed shirt bomfogging professor for a third. A good professor for the fourth did not make up for the fact that the content of these classes was just not very helpful or necessary. All the information I needed from these I could get from a good reference book.

Christian Ministry (4 hrs) – Dusty, out-of-touch professor and unhelpful content.

Education Administration (2 hrs) – Terrible books, pointless assignments, irrelevant content and a boring professor. Gack. This was the worst. I should have shown up only for the tests and been satisfied with a C. The value of this class was to teach me endurance.

Now pay attention to WHY these classes were low-value. I’m willing to bet that with better instructors, my Old and New Testament classes could have been quite good. Had I asked around about these instructors, I probably could have set myself up for better experiences.

And at the end of the day, some classes are just going to be boring filler. No way around it. And it’s certainly not the end of the world. Think of it as preparation for pointless meetings you’re bound to have to suffer through in ministry life.

Your turn: Crummiest class so far and why? (And no naming professors, please. Let’s be kind!)

5 Replies to “My Crummiest Classes”

  1. “Inter-personal Relationship Skills”
    This class was extremely boring, bad books, busywork, and topics that could have been covered in a two hour seminar. I am sure that I can figure out how to be nice to people. I get frustrated having classes that are fillers in order to ensure a certain number of hours.
    O well I guess it is just a negative part of the seminary experience.
    Thanks for your post.

  2. I finished my m.div. in 1988 so it would be hard to remember percentages, but 80/20 is about right. My better classes, the more transformative ones, were taught by the same guys. Biblical Theology taught Bible study methodology, and yeah baby that was transformative. Homiletics was inspiring because of the prof. OT classes–loved ’em, taught by a geeky Hebrew scholar who was stereotypical nerd. But I liked the OT intro classes and assignments spawned a love for OT that still exists. My NT intro prof turned the gospels into dull dull dull….

    I took a counseling class with a prof who was left at the end of semester due to clinical depression. We each read a book and did an oral report. Since then, most of my counseling training has been reading.

    The big influencers were the prof himself–was he contributing to me? a new skill set, something to inspire me, point me to great books? Second would be the texts and books. To that I add, were the notes worth keeping? Systematic theology, still refer to those notebooks.

    Why is it that Religious Ed classes have to be so dull, yet that factor is so important in ministry?

    Seminary taught me NOTHING about people skills nor leadership; reality check is that people skills and leadership are as if not more useful than preaching skills. And of course, as Napoleon Dynamite might add, chicks dig guys with skills.

  3. To answer teh question: Crummiest class

    A class on leadership. “Leadership in Ministry” I think. We read a book, the prof talked about his ability to find cheap suits at good prices. And he said our churches need better leaders. He brought in a “guest lecturer”, a pastor who discussed his leadership style. After the guest left, in the final 10 minutes of class, prof said, “You know something about his style? It doesn’t work.” Gee, thanks, prof. How much tuition did I pay for this?

    And I mentioned a counseling class in my post above. Just give me my book and my 3 hours and don’t put me through this charade on Tues and Thurs for a whole semester.

  4. Wow. Must have hit a nerve. Thanks for the reports from your experience. Notice how D.Beirne (and my) reports from a distance from seminary sound… grittier? more cynical? My hope is that we can give some perspective without stealing the wonder of the experience.

  5. I once had a theology class that met one day a week for 4 hours. As it turns out the teacher lectured for less than 1 hour per night. The other 3 hours were filled with short student-led presentations and discussions. While I’m all for student-led discussion and participation, I wasn’t paying over $1000 to hear what the other students thought about theology. If I want that, I can invite some of my friends to a coffee shop and spend 5 bucks. Needless to say, it was one of the most disappointing classes I’ve ever had.


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