Training Teachers/Facilitators for the Urantia Book Internet School

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Marta Elders

By Marta Elders, Associate Trustee, Darien, Connecticut, USA

This past June ten previous students from the Urantia Book Internet School (UBIS) had the pleasure and challenge of taking the Teacher/Facilitator training session for UBIS courses led by Dorothy Elder.

The four week period focused on:

Week 1) qualities of an effective teacher;

Week 2) the process of developing a course with appropriate and meaningful questions;

Week 3) UBIS procedures for students and teachers including problem solving techniques; and

Week 4) the procedural process working with the UBIS system, course review committee (CRC), teacher/facilitator requirements, and any additional thoughts that arose throughout the process.

During the first week of the training Dorothy wisely encouraged us to consider our own experiences over the years and reflect on the teachers who have been most influential in our lives. What were the qualities we deemed most important and/or essential? By having each of us look to our own experiences, we moved into the “of” rather than the “about” sense of teaching. We then reflected on the abilities/qualities needed to be a successful UBIS teacher/facilitator and what skills are needed to engage in internet teaching. This experience reinforced our own wisdom and allowed us to focus on “discovery” rather than “interpretation” which is the hallmark of the UBIS project.

Our second week assignment was to design a course, state its purpose, write an intro for the first paper/section to be studied, and offer three questions. Courses were either topical or thematic, and many of us commented that we would love to attend the courses that were being put forward by others. During this period we considered each question using Bloom’s taxonomy—knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Using this classification as well as considering questions in terms of fact, meaning, and value, gave us more clarity and understanding of learning.

As we began the third week we looked more closely at the expectations for students and discussed different ways to support their learning and involvement. We also discussed how to accomplish this in the UBIS format. We pondered ways to respectfully interact with students while maintaining structure and openness to all while focusing on The Urantia Book and its teachings. This led to an inquiry approach as to how to solve problems as they arise during a course.

In the course’s final week we learned more about the teacher/facilitator requirements, procedure for course preparation, and the available UBIS support and mentoring system. Dorothy modeled the teaching/facilitating style that has been shown to be successful. It became quite clear that while we don’t “teach” truth, we can live truth in such a way that it is perceptible to others.

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