Sunday, February 17, 2013

Grades and Grace

I like my teaching opportunities. I teach two courses at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky and occasional courses at the Lexington Theological Seminary. I enjoy preparing the syllabus and the class lectures/discussions. I like the interaction between the students as well as with myself. I feel exceptionally blessed to be teaching in my assigned fields. My trouble with teaching is giving a grade. I have the students do book reviews, reflection papers and case studies. So, what is the difference between an A and B on a book review or case study paper? I'm not sure. I tend to give a lot of A's. I give a C when it is pretty clear that the student didn't make much of an effort. So, effort counts a lot with me and my grading scale. I've thought about giving exams, but I would have essay exams which puts me back in the same dilemma. I want to know how a student is thinking more than whether or not they know an answer. They've bought the textbooks so, even years from now they can look up an answer if they've forgotten. All of this is on my mind because in a couple of days I have to turn in grades for the Intensive Pastoral Care and Counseling class I taught at LTS during January. Since I ask students to do a lot of theological reflection, I'll do the same with my dilemma. How would Jesus grade the work the students did in that class? Which raises the greater question, if Jesus gave grades I wonder how He would grade my work for the Kingdom? More significantly, I wonder if He would grade my relationship with Him? Honestly, I don't think Jesus gives grades and I call that grace. Everyone who desires a relationship with God, passes! Yes, I like that. Grace says, let's do away with grades. Unfortunately, I think the Seminary will still require that I "grade" those papers laying on my desk.