We happily introduce Robyn Whitaker (Bromby Lecturer in Biblical Studies & Online Coordinator, Trinity College Melbourne Theological School) in today’s Meet the Blogger post. Stay tuned for our final introductory post in this series later this week!
CoT: What was your area of focus and year of graduation (or expected graduation) at the Divinity School?
RW: My PhD (2014) was in Bible, with a focus on the New Testament and the Book of Revelation in particular.
CoT: What do you most wish you had learned about teaching as a doctoral student? (and/or) What surprised you the most as a new faculty member?
RW: I wish we’d been trained in course and syllabus design in relation to learning outcomes. I still find it difficult to know how best to craft a course, choose the readings, and shape assessment tasks in order to get the desired outcome. I’m learning just how much time it takes to craft a new course from scratch and do it well.
CoT: Briefly describe a course you’ve never taught but would like to.
RW: This is a bit out of my field, but I’d love to teach a course on the rhetoric of preaching. I learned a lot about ancient rhetorical training as part of my dissertation work and think Greco-Roman rhetorical training offers a powerful method for modern homiletics both in terms of analyzing great sermons and in preparing sermons from conception through delivery. We could do with a few more Quintilians in our pulpits and public squares.
CoT: Who was a teacher you had as an undergraduate who inspires how you teach today?
RW: Sadly, I have no memorable undergrad teachers. At least, not ones memorable for their inspirational teaching! But during my MDiv, I was fortunate to have a very engaging professor who opened up the Bible in ways that challenged me deeply (intellectually and personally) and made me realize the complexity and depth of biblical studies. She now happens to be the Dean where I teach.
CoT: If you could co-teach a course with any person alive or dead, who would it be and why?
RW: For an undergrad class it would have to be comedian Billy Connelly. A) He is hilarious, so it would be the funniest class ever. B) While not an academic he is one of the best story-tellers I know. Being able to talk about the ancient world in terms of stories makes it memorable and “real.” C) As a comedian he has an unusual perspective on the world which I think would make teaching the Bible pretty interesting.
CoT: You’ve been bitten by a radioactive _____ and your new superpower of _____ has instantly made you a more effective teacher.
RW: You’ve been bitten by a radioactive __kangaroo___ and your new superpower of _reading their minds____ has instantly made you a more effective teacher.