Australian College of Theology

Half a Century of Change in Australian Theological Education: The Rise of Reflective Practice in Teaching and Learning

Presentation Abstract

The five decades from 1970 to 2020 constitute half a century of transformative change in Australian theological education (TE). Arising from a larger program of research on the history of this era, the paper will begin by briefly outlining the prominent contours of change on the Australian theological landscape during this time. It will then direct attention to the increasing professionalisation of the sector as one of these contours that warrants close analysis. An aspect of this professionalisation which has not received much attention is the rise of reflective practice among theological educators. This development will be described and explained. Narrowing the focus still further, the paper selects ‘teaching and learning’ as one important aspect of reflective practice. It will identify the main dimensions of the concern with teaching and learning and provide a brief account of their reception. On this basis, the paper makes an assessment of what has been achieved by the rise of reflective practice in general and by the focus on learning and teaching in particular. It concludes with some reflection on what has been shown about the value of viewing contemporary TE through an historical lens. In addition to a reading of published work on learning and teaching, the paper draws on extensive consultation with practitioners and the writer’s experience of almost a decade as Director of Teaching and Learning in the Australian College of Theology, now a university college.


Teaching & Learning (D.3)