Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Launching the MDIV in Spanish

The greatest strength of IWU is its "can do" spirit, its eagerness to innovate.  It has been its orientation this last decade.  IWU isn't perfect.  It isn't necessarily the first adopter.  There's plenty of room for improvement.  Just because it is forward looking on this venture here today does not mean it will be on that issue or in the future.

But, man, what a ride it's been this last decade!

The latest instance is the launch of the MDIV entirely in Spanish this January, after just a year and a half as a seminary.  It's been quite a rush, with everyone in a flurry to get webpages and data systems in place, flipping the Spanish switch in Blackboard.  We've seen the future in Google Translate.  Man, it's not perfect but did you know you can set Google automatically to translate your incoming emails into English!

There's a whole philosophy at work here that I hope one day we'll give full expression to.  It's a pragmatist philosophy.  It's "we learn by doing."  It's "truth rises from the particulars rather than truth as the playing out of universals."  It's "truth is closely related to what works and systems of truth should correspond closely to the presenting data of reality."  The philosophical cloud brings to mind terms like pragmatism, Aristotle, empiricism, Occam, Wittgenstein, non-foundationalism, critical realism, etc.  It seems on an opposite end from Platonism, rationalism, presuppositionalism, foundationalism, fundamentalism.

It's the internet (statistically generated paths rather than pre-planned ones).  It's networking rather than top down hierarchy.  It's a Wikipedia that is mostly right and generated overnight rather than a project planned out over ten years.  It's Google translate that is based on a statistical model--probability--rather than a program in which a fluent expert  sits down and tries to program a dictionary.  It's learn what you need as you need it (and thus remember it) rather than learn the entire system and only then move to application (after you've largely forgotten it or never really learned it in the first place).  It's you almost always learn it a little wrongly first and then only later refine your understanding.  

In short, Erasmus wins.

I'm sure I'll blog more on the Spanish MDIV in the days to come.  This post didn't even start out about this.

1 comment:

Keith Drury said...

Thoughtful description of the philosophy of IWU in approaching the seminary...with lots of credit to you on this matter.