Creating mobiles or building monuments – Theological education in the framework of lifelong learning by Einike Pilli, DTh (Tartu University)

Theology as a discipline and theological education as the way of passing it on from one generation to another have come to a critical phase in many countries, including Estonia. Some visible and interconnected signs of it are the small number of enrolled students, the financial difficulties of theological schools, and the low status of the job of being a minister. These signs are the result of deeper problems, which include the gap between church life and academic Theological Education, predominantly rational, subject-centred and individualistic approaches to studies, which discriminate between practical and “theoretical” theology, and too little emphasis on generic competencies and experiential learning. These can be expressed as the issues of the goals, movement and structure of theological study (Kelsey & Wheeles, 1991, 17). Theological schools often find it difficult to close the gap between denominational interests and academic requirements (Pilli, T., 2006, 14). On the level of rhetoric, theological schools and churches say that they need each other. However, at least in the Estonian context, there is little communication and cooperation between the two sides when it comes to expressing clear expectations, defining learning outcomes and developing curriculum, guiding work-based learning and mentoring individual students.

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