Friday, May 30, 2008

internship interred?

Meadville Lombard's announced plan to move to a three-year program, with several integrated praxis segments, and potentially without an internship requirement, is kicking up some dust around the interwebs. See Celestial Lands, for example, and his link to some current students' opinions in the ML newsletter, "Stairwell Wall."

It should be noted that seminaries must have an annual crisis. Seminary produces a huge amount of anxiety, and it will always find expression, usually around some issue other than the real cause (like many other things in life). Also, Professor David Bumbaugh thrives in the role of "loyal opposition," so it is not surprising that he would term this plan a "trainwreck."

That said, I may agree with David. I have not seen the proposal, so I will not say definitively that Meadville's administration is planning to replace a long-term internship with several short-term praxis (what is the plural of praxis?). I will say that I found my internship to be extraordinarily valuable, and that much of that value came from the experience of relationships over time.

I am eager to hear the actual proposal, and will try to refrain from too-hasty judgment until then. In the mean time, I will follow ML Board President Larry Ladd's suggestion, and pray for the Board members as they deliberate on the best course for the school's (and our UU movement?!)'s future.


At 10:26 AM, Blogger Christine Robinson said...

My seminary didn't have an internship requirement, but the MFC did, and does, and wise search committees do, too. If "praxis" means an integration of learning and practicing, I'm all for it. But nothing can replace an internship.

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What troubles me most about the proposal, which as far as I know hasn't been written yet, though is being touted as a "done deal" by the school's administration, is the seeming vacuum in which it has been conceived.

Reports of the proposal are that every student would be involved in ongoing praxis alongside of course-work throughout the three years, and yet Chicago area ministers and other supervisors have not been consulted as to how, practically speaking, that would actually work. Finding up to three-year positions for 10-20 students per year, with a total of 30-60 running concurrently certainly requires some organization and cooperation!

Also, the MFC has not been involved in the planning, from all reports, and neither have the faculty or their just-finished comprehensive curriculum review.

It's as if someone was brainstorming, presented their raw, incomplete ideas as a fully realized plan, and is now surprised that those who would be most effected by it are dubious. Hopefully reality will set in before they actually ask the Board to vote on what appears to be one of the most ill-conceived plans of action ever.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger ogre said...

I'm fond of MLTS (or I would be looking at moving to SKSM). But that said, this whole thing has been ass-backwards.

The process has been announcement of plan, to be followed by buffing the plan, to be followed by board approval.

No consultation with the group most intimately affected (current students), and no discussion with recent alumni in order to craft a plan that includes their insights and opinions... and that has built-in ways of addressing the concerns of existing students. No consultation with the local churches that are supposed to start providing a required praxis experience (for a school that's trying to grow...) and the MFC was still in the dark, too?

Chip, the de rigeur crisis exists elsewhere. I'm not going to point to it, because the MRPs have essentially gotten past it already... and it may well be that the scheme being presented has minimal effect on MRP students (Chicago-area churches not even being in the picture for us...). Maybe. But we can see how it impacts the residential students, and seems to have done so with no forethought and consideration.

Disconnecting internship from the academic program is significant only in that it scrambles some people's financial planning (it ceases to be something that financial aid would be available for, it no longer being part of the academics). But it's an MFC requirement. So...

ML found that the internship integration process wasn't... integrating, or integrated. Instead of finding a way to fix that, they dumped it and are adding (it appears to me) a praxis for residential students that is analogous to that required for MRPs. Conceptually, that doesn't seem like a bad idea. Practically, it looks implausible.

David's "trainwreck" may be overstating it... but it's clear that some of those cars aren't fully connected and can't stay on the track.

But the utter lack of transparency and community-engaged process in developing the plan is what (I think) really bothers the students. Heck, I've asked a few questions and gotten "Oh, yeah, we need to resolve that" answers. Not a good sign.

Pray, yes. But not just.


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