This article is from the issue: Volume 2, Issue 2: The Importance of Orality in Learning Methods

A Note from the Editor: Orality

May 09, 2013

In “Communicating Gods’ Message in Oral Cultures” Rick Brown comments on the differences between print and oral communicators, 

Unfortunately it is often happens that a print-oriented community wrongly expects that the oral communicators in his or her audience will understand logical, analytical, and abstract ways of thinking, or he expects that sermons and radio programs designed for a print-oriented audience can be translated and used effectively with an oral audience. But this is not usually the case. (Rick Brown, 2004)

Brown’s article highlights the lack of understanding and concern for oral communicators in cross-cultural ministry.  What is true in the field is also reflected in theological education in the West in which a significantly large proportion of the student body is represented by oral learners.

During one of our faculty forums we talked about the article by Dr. Jay Moon, “Understanding Oral Learners,” a research project focusing on the learning preference of seminary students of various cultural backgrounds. The study actually shows that “the slight majority of contemporary seminary students studied are oral learners” (Moon 2012). This immediately became a heated topic for discussion among faculty members as it was closely related to the issues that needed to be addressed here at WCIU. How could we best serve our students who come from oral learning tradition and empower them to bring wholeness and human flourishing to their own communities? This interest led to our decision to sponsor a Winter Institute on the topic on Feb. 11, 2013, when key advocates in the field of Orality, Dr. Jay Moon of Sioux Falls Seminary, Dr. Bill Bjoraker of William Carey International University, and Dr. Tom Steffen of Biola University shared perspectives on oral learners as well as conducted a workshop to engage more closely in their relevancy to theological education.

You will be able to read in this issue a paper by Jay Moon on the Winter Institute on Theological Education for Oral Learners, detailing some of the outcomes of the survey and the workshop. Some of the other papers in this issue include:

“The Case and Call for Oral Bibles: A Key Component in Completing the Great Commission” by Rick Leatherwood
“Objections and Benefits of an Oral Strategy for Bible study and Teaching” by Larry Dinkins
“The “People of the Book” are the People of the Story: Storytelling in Contemporary Jewish Ministry” by Bill Bjoraker

Through the publication of this issue, we invite readers, especially our faculty, students, and alumni out there serving among oral learners/communicators, to reflect on issues related to theological education for oral learners, including some of the following:

• how oral learners learn
• how we can affirm and empower oral learners
• how we can adapt our curriculum for oral learners
• what assessment tools we can develop to facilitate oral learners

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Yalin Xin, Ph.D

Yalin Xin is the associate professor of intercultural studies at William Carey International University. He was formerly a research fellow at the Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements and Senior Editor for the William Carey International Development Journal. His research interest includes Christian renewal and revitalization movements and Christianity in China.