Walking past the local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, I noticed a portable oak lectern sitting next to the dumpster, which was overflowing with broken parts of old dressers. “Wow! Should I ask them if I could have it?” I thought to myself, flooded with memories of class presentations from similar wooden stands.
But then I realized that I probably would never use it. The only time that I read from a lectern any more is when I am preaching a sermon. Most of my seminars and workshops include visual aids, music, activities, case studies and games.
In some ways the lectern is a symbol of the classical learning model of knowledge being something that we transfer mechanically and only in one direction, like a pitcher of water filling the vessels that are our brains. But we now understand–from American Pragmatist John Dewey–that learning is a process that is best done relationally and interactively. More recently, education experts such as Howard Gardner have encouraged us to engage with a range of intelligences and learning styles. Our Tapestry of Faith curricula reflects this understanding. As Unitarian Universalists, we aspire to a wholeness of our humanity, paying attention to our bodies and our creative expressions as well as to our acquisition of facts.
But there is still resistance and a clinging to the old model, symbolized by the lectern:
How can we be intentional about moving our church communities away from the habit of the lectern?