Sunday, December 08, 2013

Resource for "The World is Here Now"

How does the work with Global Citizen Education assist the work of pastoral formation in theological education?

from Global Education First:

Barriers to global citizenship
Legacy of the current education system.
 Schools have traditionally prepared people to pass exams, proceed to the next level and graduate into the workplace. We now face the much greater challenge of raising global citizens. Promoting respect and responsibility across cultures, countries and regions has not been at the centre of education. Global citizenship is just taking root and changing traditional ways of doing things always brings about resistance. This entails changing the way education is organized— making content more relevant to contemporary life and global challenges, introducing innovative and participatory teaching and learning styles. We must rethink the purpose of education and prepare students for life, not exams alone.
Outmoded curricula and learning materials. Reviews from around the world find that today’s curricula and textbooks often reinforce stereotypes, exacerbate social divisions, and foster fear and resentment of other groups or nationalities. Rarely are curricula developed through a participatory process that embraces excluded and marginalized groups. But change is possible when educators adopt a vision of ethical global citizenship. Lessons from India and Ghana, for example, show that explicitly teaching good citizenship as a subject can have powerful results with more empowered and ethical students emerging. Deeply entrenched beliefs take time to change. But young people are open to new perspectives, and schools are ideally positioned to convey them.
Lack of teacher capacity. Broad teacher development reforms are needed to ensure the uptake of new citizenship skills. If we want to transform the way students learn, we must also help teachers expand their own skills and outlooks. Are they comfortable with a curriculum that dwells explicitly on global citizenship? Can they teach traditional subjects in ways that exemplify non-discrimination and positive support to the disadvantaged? Many teachers lack the training, confidence and classroom resources to meet these challenges without support and instruction. We owe it to them, and our children, to provide it.
Teachers must both be comfortable with the content of what they are teaching but also model it in their teaching practice. This means on-going teacher development and participatory learning techniques are important to ensure teachers feel comfortable teaching about global citizenship explicitly. Teachers can help build ideas and habits of non-discrimination and positive support to the disadvantaged through the way they conduct their teaching of literacy, numeracy and other subjects.
Inadequate focus on values. The values of peace, human rights, respect, cultural diversity and justice are often not embodied in the ethos of schools. Instead of empowering students to learn and thrive, schools often replicate social inequalities and reinforce social pathologies by tolerating bullying and gender-based violence and subjecting children to physical and psychological punishment. Young people learn much from schools, but what they learn is not only in their lessons. Teachers and administrators must learn to model the skills we want students to develop, such as good environmental practices, participatory decision-making, and the control and prevention of violence through reporting policies and clear codes of conduct.

Lack of leadership on Global Citizenship. To create a generation that values the common good, we must understand how young people see the world today—and our schools must find ways to foster a broader vision. Goals and targets should be set around 21st century skills and regularly assessed to measure progress.
Open discussion of tolerance and human rights can be politically sensitive, but it is critical if we want to overcome divisions and expand the prospects for peace and prosperity. Success will require support from a wide range of stakeholders, including the highest levels of government.
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The World is Here Now...

I was invited to participate in a conversation with two students scheduled for the same day I departed for a consultation on the impact of globalizing forces in US seminaries. The two students are leaders in their ecclesial community, seminary students looking to pastor, and Spanish speakers from very different Latin American countries. They came to our office to ask “how can the seminary become a bridge for Hispanic or Latino/a communities in West Michigan?”

The students shared something I did not expect: Holland, Michigan is home to more than 20 Spanish-speaking congregations. This news was jarring to me, and I am not able to shake this information. Really?!?.... Holland, Michigan, this assumed Dutch colony in middle America, has a vibrant Spanish speaking Christian community?!? I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I am not sure that our faculty knows this reality; I am quite certain that our students, who are temporary citizens of Holland, know this reality. Leading the church in mission expects faculty, students, and pastors/leaders to understand that this is a reality in towns and cities of all sizes.

The students articulated why a seminary is a better bridge for Hispanic leaders than any one congregation or ministry. We began discussing how this bridge could be built and immediately found ourselves (ourselves being academic admin/faculty) trying to create ways to make this possible, including how we could lead the conversation and partnership. The modus operandi and our dominant cultural ways of being are so innate that we fail to initially see our privilege. The two students nodded in apparent agreement, yet there was a growing atmosphere in the conversation that the seminary could be host without being the primary leadership presence.

The conversation turned when one of the students was speaking; he was looking for the next word, as we all do when we are passionate, and instead of using an English word, he turned to his colleague and said a Spanish word amidst an English sentence. He did not explain the word to us; he simply used it amidst the moment. This moment shifted the conversation away from the seminary administrators being the responsible party and toward the two students taking the lead while the seminary could provide the space and resources for the students to do so. We completed the conversation and agreed to meet again. I left for Chicago and the consultation. The story in our office meets the consultation through the following question:

I wonder if seminaries, a current form of theological education, have the internal/institutional depth to be/come a place to engage the above such space in a faithful way – to become a theological and educational institution for a dynamically globalized/globalizing world? An outcome of this is a place that prepares leaders as disciples and Global Citizens who are able to navigate a changing world with wisdom, grace, and skill. This means that faculty and students recognize how global privilege affects their perspective in order to have a broader view for those who have a different relationship to global privilege.

This will require content, process, partnerships, and outcomes around globalization matters, including attention and engagement with political, economic, social movements/migration, and religious commitments and practices.

Sure, two administrators arrived by the grace of God in the presence of two students to see a new way forward in a partnership that initially appears promising to this end. Yet we are early in the discussion and we have not institutionally agreed to move this bridge-building forward. My worry is that our discussions and actions will move to simply “talking about partnerships with Spanish-speaking ministries” and we will not become an institution whereby these types of partnerships are ingrained habits.

I desire the people in, with, and for theological education to have the capacity, habits, and skills to navigate the United States context(s) that is/are: constantly changing; filled with alterity at every level; and increasingly multi-religious and multi-perspectival while decreasingly Christian. I believe that this is a new missionary understanding for the US context, yet even more this is a formational and educational request that takes the intersection of church, academy, and society seriously. This is a Christ-centered task that continues to view the world as a world God deeply loves - Immanuel.

The world is here now.