About fifteen years ago or so I started doing something completely different on my last day of class in my New Testament course.  I have a lecture scheduled for then, of course, but the scheduled lecture rehashes material that is earlier covered in the class and that students can pick up easily from their reading – so it’s not one of the crucial class periods of the semester.  Sometimes that last class is not even that (depending on how the semester schedule works out) but is a kind of review session.

But about two weeks before the end, I tell the students that I have an option for the last day, and I’ll let them vote on it.

The option is to do the class as scheduled or, instead, to have a non-required class (no taking of attendance, no reason to come unless they want to) in which I explain what I myself really believe and why I believe it.   That is of some relevance to the class, of course, since the beliefs I’ll be talking about are connected with the Bible – my own personal views of the Bible, of Christ, of God, of faith, and so on.   But if students would rather have the last class as scheduled in the syllabus I will do that, of course.   We take a vote.  How many students want me to blow off the last class and talk about what I believe?   99% of the students (these are large classes; they have ranged from 130 students to 420 over the years, depending on a number of factors, including whether I have enough graduate student teaching assistants) want me to talk about myself.

I started doing this years ago in part because …

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