Yesterday culminated in a strange audio conference which left me feeling completely brain-dead - though rather by the means than the content. Picture it: a Skype conference which had to be abandoned because of background noise on one mic which interfered with the speech on all the others - because only one Skyper can speak at a time. I ended up with the phone to one ear, the lone Skyper in the Mitchell Library in the other, typing notes to the skyper with one hand while trying to contribute sensibly to the discussion.
But the content too was strangely wearing. In a church which is relying more and more on the education of lay people to maintain standards and even a presence in rural areas, it seems to me vital that the education provided is efficient, relevant and cotemporaneous with the activity which requires it. And when much of the training is being given to people who have already coped with a working life, a family - and simply life, Jim - it seems unrealistic to insist that there is only one road to follow: that of academic accreditation through seminars and essay-writing.
I had a late-night listen to a conversation between Ewan and some Canadian educators (I'm a glutton for punishment) and was struck by his insistence that over-control of teaching and the perceived need to be seen to be producing something were in fact stultifying and got in the way of real learning. As a classroom practitioner, I have known this for many years, and realised that my increasing seniority (years, not position!) let me away with doing my own thing - because in the end my pupils shone.
I'm afraid that this controlling of the process is going to put people like me off, if it's allowed to prevail. I am not ever going to demand ordination, so the system is actually quite safe, but I'm enjoying the informal group learning that we're doing here in Dunoon and don't want to lose what we have. But if many clergy are still stuck with the "teacher/father knows best" format of teaching/training, we'll remain a wee pocket of forward-looking learning in a haze of important-sounding acronyms and accreditation by universities we never knew existed.
And maybe that will be just fine.