2021 Lilly Fellows Award Goes to David Smith’s “On Christian Teaching”
We are pleased to announce that David Smith’s On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom (2018) received the 2021 Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts Book Award!
The biennial Lilly Fellows Program Book Award honors an original and imaginative work from any academic discipline that best exemplifies the central ideas and principles animating the Lilly Fellows Program. These include faith and learning in the Christian intellectual tradition, the vocation of teaching and scholarship, and the history, theory, or practice of the university as the site of religious inquiry and culture.
The Lilly Fellows Program selected On Christian Teaching as the 2021 winner out of twenty-five books nominated for this award. In his congratulations letter to Eerdmans Publishing, Joe Creech, Lilly Fellows Program Director, wrote:
On Christian Teaching is a thoughtful reflection on how faith can shape the vocation of teaching. Drawing on his extensive experience in church-related education, Smith uses examples from his own teaching to guide readers through reflective exercises that will help them use their faith to shape their teaching practices, regardless of discipline. In the first half of the book, Smith gives abundant examples of the ways that faith can inform pedagogy, to make the case that it is, indeed, possible for faith to inform pedagogy in any discipline. Asking readers to think about topics such as classroom hospitality, the first minutes and days of the course, and textbooks and reading materials with Christian faith in mind, Smith challenges readers to examine every aspect of teaching and consider whether it could be done “Christianly.” In the second half of the book, Smith elaborates on how to do so. He asks readers to shape the practice of teaching “in the light of faith” (p. 69). He invites faculty to adopt teaching practices that “resonate with the Kingdom of God” (p. 70). In this section, he gives concrete strategies, examples of teaching methods, and case studies.
One reviewer said, “one of the great strengths of Smith’s work is its potential use with faculty who come with little or no theological training to those institutions that emphasize the integration of faith and learning.” Reviewers concur that among the strengths of On Christian Teaching are Smith’s “empathy for the student learning experience,” as well as its practicality— “[Smith] provides enough examples to bring his, at times, abstract notions of Christian teaching to life.” In addition, the usefulness across disciplines is apparent, since Smith “offers illustrations from other disciplines to help the reader imagine how his insights might be applied to a spectrum of academic subjects.” Reviewers agree that Smith “accomplishes a rare feat—a book that is at the same time brilliantly insightful and extraordinarily practical.”
Founded in 1991, the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, based at Valparaiso University, seeks to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of learning for the twenty-first century.