This page contains past and present messages from Dr. John Meyer, MLC's Director of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education.
What a joy! Nearly every day I get to meet a current or prospective MLC graduate student. As I listen to each person’s story, I thank God for providing educational leaders who are making a difference for the children, families and churches they serve. One student at a time, these teachers make real differences that impact real lives.
Just think what could be done if only we had enough time and money! How often a congregation passes on a ministry opportunity because of a lack of time and money. Called workers, too, may use the boundaries of time and money as limits in their own ministry. For example, although 91.3%* of WELS teachers believe that continuing education is necessary for their ministries, 73.7%** list time and money as the key factors for not doing it.
October can be a difficult month in education. The school year begins with renewed zeal, fresh ideas, and inspired plans. But within a few months the stresses involved with decision-making and people management sap the energy stored from the summer. Students don’t succeed as we planned. Parents express concerns. Differing priorities between colleagues leads to friction and misunderstanding. For the graduate student, course deadlines and assignments loom. The optimism of a fresh start can give way to a grim reality. Are teaching and getting my master’s degree worth it?
I am frequently asked how I like my new position as director of MLC’s graduate program. My response is that I really enjoy it because I get to support teachers on the front lines of Gospel ministry. God uses faith-filled teachers in Lutheran schools to defeat the “spiritual forces of evil” (Eph. 6:12) in a spiritual battle for the eternal souls of children. It is my privilege to help in holding up the teachers’ hands when they get tired.
The movie "The Social Network" was one of the most popular films of 2010. Not long ago, technology was associated with increased isolation, but a recent Pew Research Center study found that using modern technology actually leads to greater socialization. The MLC master’s program uses technology to encourage peer interaction. This emphasis on social interaction helps teachers in our online master’s program learn.
For many of the MLC graduate students, the classroom is more than teaching. It’s about ministry. So while they are concerned with helping students learn to read, to make calculations, to write clearly, and to understand their place in the world, their passion is guiding children to trust in their Savior and to grow in God’s love. Their “job” is to help students understand God’s wisdom and love while providing instruction in the sciences and the humanities.
Why is the Martin Luther College graduation ceremony a special celebration? It is a worship service to praise the Lord for the gifts he has provided to his church. We celebrate the blessings that God gives us in people who have dedicated their lives in service to the church and are prepared for entry into ministry or seminary training. While we are used to recognizing the accomplishment of the bachelor’s degree recipients, it is equally important to publicly recognize those who earn their master’s degree.
The title caught my attention: “Master’s Degree in English: Will Mow Lawns.” This article appeared in the November issue of Chronicle of Higher Education. It tells of the increasing number of graduate students earning degrees for which there is no market or use in the real world. It reminded me of many conversations I’ve had with undergraduate students and some existing teachers.
Some teachers have been heard to say, “The best part of teaching is . . . June, July, and August.” While most teachers I know use their summer to prepare for a successful school year, the summer break also provides the chance for them to spend more time with their own children, visit relatives, explore the country, or pursue a hobby. What about teachers who take courses during the summer? Don’t they ever get a chance to rest? I had an interesting conversation about that with some teachers who were on the MLC campus taking a summer school course recently.
At the end of each semester, graduate students are asked to complete a 46-item end-of-course survey. An impressive 87% of students enrolled in summer graduate courses completed their surveys. People often wonder whether their voice actually matters or whether what they say gets lost in some survey black hole. While individual identities remain anonymous, the data and comments from each MLC graduate course are carefully reviewed by both the instructor and the director, and recommendations are made as a result. Here are some things we learned: