A Little Bit of a Soapbox: I Love Learning!

I was asked recently to reflect on my time at Greenville College (specifically in the Spanish department) and how my time there has prepared me and eventually brought me to work in Guatemala. My three and a half years at Greenville was such a formative time for me, essential in making me who I am today. I had no idea that my Spanish studies would take me so many places and expose me to so many different things! It was never just about learning the Spanish language, but was about discovering how mastering Spanish, partnered with an expanded worldview, could be used to seek and glorify God in diverse contexts. I enjoyed my classes because of how engaging and challenging they were and I really appreciated the way my professors invested immensely in developing my character. My study abroad experience in Costa Rica was also an essential part of my education because it helped me to solidify some of my beliefs and passions. Now that I am in Guatemala, I love interacting with the students we receive and helping them fully engage in this challenging setting of exploring justice issues and seeing God in the hard places. Using Spanish is second nature to me now, and I can’t really imagine myself not using it on a daily basis ever again. If you would have asked me even into my last couple of years at Greenville, I would have never told you that I expected to live abroad, working as a full time missionary. I did not think I was capable or qualified or brave enough, but God equipped me and clearly called me. Now I am trying to discern His will for my life in the next steps that I will take and understand how my time here in Guatemala is forming me to serve God in incredible ways: Maybe ways I would have never anticipated.

I’m not sure I told all of you clearly about the masters program I began the last week of August. It is a two year program and is completely online. We have class sessions once a week for each class (I’m in two classes right now) and the rest is outside work. Each class is very interactive because we are able to raise our hands and talk and hear each other. It is more of a discussion than anything. And I loooove my classmates. They all come from different backgrounds and are working in very exciting fields, some even on the level of dealing with international policy (like the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement). It is so exciting to be in a cohort with professional educators and policy makers! I am learning so much! Let me tell you a little about my classes and what we’ve been learning. (JUST A LITTLE!)

Tuesday nights: Education, Diversity, and Critical Citizenship.

This is quite the interesting elective class! There are only 13 of us, and we are discussing what citizenship means and how do you teach civic curriculum in the classroom. We talk about:

–         cosmopolitan citizenship (being a “citizen of the world” and what our responsibilities to humanity are, and do these trump our national loyalties?).

–         Idolatrous patriotism, vs. morally apt patriotism,

–         Emphasizing human rights education in the classroom, rather than just citizenship rights.

–         Non-citizen rights- such as non-citizen voting on a local level. Does that take away from our rights as citizens, or do non-citizens have the right to elect school board members when their kids are in school? Etc.

–         Social-Justice Oriented Citizenship- What is our responsibility as citizens concerning justice at home and abroad?

–         Countersocialization, reconceptualizing civic education

–         Agonistic cosmopolitics- embracing differing perspectives and encouraging debate in the classroom… sounds dicey right? 😉

Wednesday nights Globalization and Educational Policy

This class is a little bit bigger. It is a COR class for my program, basically the starting level intro class. There are 23 students in this class, but some of them are not in the Global studies concentration, but other branches in the Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership department. We talk about:

–         Globalization- what does it mean to be in a globalized world? How does this affect educational perspectives?

–         Allocation of values in determining policy. What are the goals behind policies instated by the state, local, and national level? How do these policies demonstrate values such as learning for the sake of learning, verses learning as a commodity?

–         Intergovernmental Organizations, transnational policies, OECD, UNESCO, PISA, IEA, GATS, … Sometimes I forget if I’m speaking English.

–         Curriculum reform, pedagogy,

–         Evaluation- What is the reason for evaluation at different levels? How can we evaluate critical thinking? Do our evaluations lead to material memorization instead of engaging in material?

–         Marketization of education, audit culture, knowledge economy, self-capitalizing practices, NEOLIBERALISM

I’m sorry. I said that would be a little. But I just want you to get as excited about this as I am.

It’s a lot of homework; I feel like that’s ALL I do in my free time. And there is always more that I could be doing. I love what I’m learning, so I wish I HAD time to do more research and learn more. And I love the idea of “mastering” something. I want to know everything in this field, and master this beast!

This past Friday, I was blessed with the opportunity to be able to go to a conference held in Antigua, given by the president of Christian Ministries International, Jason Carlson. Jason presents on Christian apologetics and a Christian response to cults and false philosophies. The three areas of focus for this conference were creationism vs. evolution, a Christian response to post-modernism, and how to reach out to Mormons. It was certainly an interesting conference and I enjoyed the opportunity to learn from a very knowledgeable person who is very passionate about his perspective. I can’t say that I was in agreement with all that he said, but it was so fun and engaging to be thinking critically about these tings and be challenged to revisit where I stand on these issues. I always appreciate the intellectual stimulation!

I have been reflecting, too, on the idea of seeing every situation as an opportunity to learn. Especially living in a foreign culture, I will ALWAYS have more to learn. Am I asking questions and engaging and learning everyday? I try to encourage our students to submerge in the reality of the people we are serving in Magdalena: Entering in to live with them, incarnationally, and always asking questions and engaging. But I think that should apply to all of us, everywhere! (That’s a big statement, I know.) Never be complacent or apathetic or unengaged! We should all be life-long learners and explore new issues, perspectives, and concepts everyday. Why wouldn’t you want to fully engage in this beautiful life we are given? Yes, even when they are tough, uncomfortable issues. That’s where grace and mercy come in. Let us engage fully and take advantage of every opportunity: “suck the marrow out of life,” as Henry David Thoreau puts it. How are you living to the fullest?

SPU in ministry sites:


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Richard Huston
    Oct 17, 2012 @ 20:38:30

    I love reading about your love for learning, and where your experiences at GC, and your own initiative and dedication, have taken you.


  2. Maurine
    Oct 17, 2012 @ 22:55:08

    Thumbs up to TEACHABILITY. If Jesus were to give an award for somebody who lives it, models it, & now writes about it… Britney you would receive it 🙂 You’ve definitely got the “secret of the Kingdom of God”!! You go girl 🙂


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