Poll: Are all of your classes worthy of your best attention?

Mark at Seminary Survival Guide has been writing about getting the most out of your classes. He argues that students must pick which classes to focus on.

My point in this series of posts is this (mildly controversial) idea: not all of your classes are worthy of your best attention.

I’d like to hear what you think. Take the poll and leave your comments below. Any alumni willing to go on the record?

Take The Poll

[poll id="10"]

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18 Responses to Poll: Are all of your classes worthy of your best attention?

  1. Adam Winters says:

    I feel this poll question is a little loaded. Anything you do is worth doing well, of course. To intentionally disrespect a class or professor because one isn’t feeling particularly “Challenged” or “enlightened” amounts to bad stewardship.

    Then again, there is such a thing as prioritizing. Certain classes, by nature, mean more to a student, whether they be in their area of speciality, doctoral preparation, or just more demanding. For instance, if pressed for time, I would have to choose to do extra credit in a class where I was struggling (or points were hard to come by) as oppposed to a class where I had a solid 98 average. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do the extra credit in the class w/ the 98 average, but if forced to choose only one, the decision should be made based on priority.

  2. Mark Warnock says:

    I agree that the question is loaded. So much the better. It will provoke our thinking about it.

    Thanks for the link, Tony.

  3. Brother Hank says:

    Before you answer this poll, I would encourage everyone to think about how much “attention” you paid to the Cooperative Program class… especially those of you who are planning on spending the rest of your life serving the Convention….

  4. Tony Kummer says:

    The other side of this is the professors.

    Most realize that some classes are less worthy of attention. They clearly imply it with the way they invest so little attention in giving their lectures – or cutting you out 30 minutes early every week.

    One semester I was so tired of that geschichte that I calculated the $ per hour for sitting in that classroom. Needless to say I wanted a refund, not to mention the Cooperative program who paid have my tuition.

  5. Joseph Gould says:

    Most of the individuals I have met who do not do well in all their classes do so because they lack proper discipline, and not because of family, church, or work commitments. The fact is, many seminary students are lazy.

    Of course true emergencies do arise which take our time from our studies, but having experienced a few myself I have not found these to be the norm. Much more often students are lazy because they go on Halo binges or “The Office” marathons.

    If one is truly struggling to balance family, work, church, and seminary, then they should consider taking fewer hours of classes. It may take an extra year to graduate, but they will be better off upon entering a local church where they hopefully will spend their next 40 years.

  6. I always seemed to sit next to somebody who complained, “I don’t know why I even have to take this class.” They never seemed to do well on exams and such – making themselves a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I disagree with the way Mark was quoted. As presented here, I vote ‘yes’ – You get out of any course what you put into it. You are in seminary to learn and prepare – you owe your best effort to your future congregation.

    In it’s context, however, Mark’s only examples are of not letting school take you away from valuable family time, prayer, service, etc. These are things you should be doing no matter your course load. Dr. Akin says it well, “If you get an A in seminary and a C in your family, then you are failing in life.” (or something like that…)

    I guess it depends on what a person means by “best attention.”

  7. John Mark Inman says:

    “06 alumn
    If you have the chance to take Ministry of Leadership, Worshipping Church or Biblical Hermeneutics in a one week J-Term, how can you not jump all over that?

  8. “Attention” could mean a lot of things. The ambiguity of the term makes the question “loaded” with a pejorative tone. We are studying the most important subjects a person could ever study: God (theology), the Bible (hermeneutics, languages, etc.), the history of God’s people (Church history), etc. It sounds impious to say about any of these subjects that we shouldn’t give them our utmost attention.

    It all depends on how you interpret the word “attention.” If by that word you mean–do I pay my best attention to required reading when I read or to the lecture when I’m in class, then certainly, regardless of the level of importance per class, you should give your utmost attention to maximize the learning (regardless of quality level or level of importance).

    But if we understand the “attention” to mean time, the question is more debatable. No one spends equal amount of time on every class. We tend to get more wrapped up in those things which are more interesting to us by default and then spend more time on, say, a research paper that is in the area of interest to us, than we do for a pre-determined topic assigned by a proff. We would all probably agree (I hope anyway) that studying the words of God himself in exegesis classes is more important than studying the words of men about other men (church history). Thus, if forced to choose time delegation, the greater time slot would go to exegesis. But this is more a matter of “attention” with respect to time.

  9. Pingback: » Take the Poll SeminarySurvivalGuide.com

  10. Eutychus says:

    Not all classes are worthy of the same intensity of effort. But I didn’t have the 80%-20% split Mark talks about as a BTS major at Southern.

  11. G F McDowell says:

    I don’t see how anybody who has taken Dr. Fuller’s Hebrew boot camp class can honestly answer “yes” to that question.

  12. Adam Winters says:

    This discussion needs a pop-culture illustration:

    If watching college football this year taught me anything, it is that teams usually focus their attention on the periodic “big matchups” on their schedule. They probably spend the off-season studying game film and scouting the opposition just to increase their chances of winning the big ones.

    Still, a good team cannot afford to win only the “big matchups.” Winning the title requires that they beat the supposedly “inferior” teams as well as the elite. This year saw the most upsets in recent memory. Appalacian State proved that if your name is Michigan, then you probably shouldn’t spend all your attention on Ohio State when an upset may be sneaking in under the radar.

    The well rounded student will make the best of any class. I am proud to say that Appalacian State equivalency classes have taught me a great deal at this seminary, in addition to the big matchups held on the homefields of Dr. Fuller or Dr. Wright.

  13. Tony Kummer says:

    One of my justifications for taking 2 classes at a time is to get the most out of my courses at Southern. OF course family, financial and work issues also limit me to PT status.

    Going PT allows me to actually read extra books on the subject or related subject. Not to mention investing several weeks into a paper instead of the typcial 12 hours.

    The downside to all this is I’ve been around a long time and the magic of seminary has well worn off.

  14. John says:

    I once sat in on a MDiv class at Southern. I was disappointed to watch about a dozen students playing video games throughout the class period. I thought, if this is the kind of effort the next generation of SB pastors are putting into their preparation the convention is in trouble.

  15. Eric Sowell says:

    I’m an alumnus of a different school (DTS), so you may not care what I have to think on this :). I think the answer to this has to be no, and for several reasons.

    First, you have to ask yourself if your curriculum is 100% tailored to your needs. I am going to bet on the MDiv and ThM levels that this is never true. If that is the case (and I would argue that this is usually going to be so), then it would be unwise to focus on classes that are of little benefit to you. That’s simply bad stewardship. All students come with different educational needs.

    Second, and this is a follow-up to the first. You cannot assume that degree planners are always right. Sure, they have experience. Sure, chances are, they know more about it than you (or I) do when we start seminary, or maybe even when you finish. But they are not perfect, and IMHO, seminary curricula are not ideally designed as is…at least the ones I have looked at.

    Third, there is a decent chance you will get a class that the teacher is simply not able to teach well. This could be because they lack communication skills, knowledge, or because they don’t care. I had a number of classes taught by teachers that I thought were simply not qualified to teach. If you go through seminary and never have this experience, it’s either because you are really blessed and get only good teachers, you are too nice, or because you don’t know enough about the subject area to know better (which is the case for all of us in some subject areas).

    I’ve heard a number of great things about Southern. Being a Baptist, I especially hope they are true. Make the best of your schooling, but be sure never to confuse going to class with getting an education. No curriculum planner can be right all the time for every student. If you find something you need to learn, learn it, regardless of school. If it gets in the way of your classes, so be it. What is most important is that you be well educated.

  16. Jonathan Baird '05 says:

    The answer is no. You must prioritize. My relationship with my wife is and was more important than any class I ever took. I would go so far as to say that no seminary class is worthy of your best attention. On the flipside, the way you think and study about God is worthy of your best attention. Where this and your seminary classes intersect, the content is worthy of your highest and most concentrated efforts.

  17. Jonathan Baird '05 says:

    By the way Tony, this is a great site and it’s great keeping up with what’s going on at my alma mater.
    Thanks,
    JB

  18. Thad Noyes says:

    For what it’s worth, I remember one SBTS professor (who will remain nameless) telling our class at the beginning of the semester:

    “For some of you, you will be sinning if you DON’T get an “A” in this class. But for others of you, you will be sinning if you DO get an “A” in this class.”

    Made sense to me.

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