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On Viewing Learners as Spiritual Beings: Implications for Language Educators

Author: David Smith, Director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College
Journal of Christianity and Foreign Languages
Posted on: Jun 8, 2009

This article, first presented as a plenary address at the CELT 2007 conference at Seattle Pacific
University, explores the implications of challenging reductive understandings of learners in language
classrooms and working instead with a conception of the learner as a spiritual being. Some reasons
why it has been difficult to frame a place for spirituality in accounts of the language learner are
described, and an example is examined of an attempt to design a sequence of classroom learning in
the light of a concern for students’ spiritual growth.

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The Elsa Cortina Project: An Introduction to Three Curricular Units for Spanish Language Learners

Author: Cynthia Slagter and Marcie J.Pyper, Professors of Spanish
Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College
Posted on: May 6, 2009

Although teaching and learning verbs and vocabulary has sometimes been considered “value-free,” the beliefs and morality that underlie a teaching approach strongly inform what is taught and how it is taught in world language classrooms. The world language classroom can be a place in which students learn more than discrete vocabulary and sentence structure. It can be a locus of discovery of common humanity and a place where human dignity is recognized and respected. By studying the life of a real person, students gain an understanding of that person as part of a larger community and a larger historical context. Biographical narrative holds together what is often separated in language classrooms—basic language functions and the experience of spiritual and moral challenges integrated into a life context. Students learn empathy as they share this person’s trials and triumphs and grapple with moral and spiritual issues while listening to and using the target language.

The subject for our biographic narrative is Dr. Elsa Cortina, an emerita professor of Spanish at Calvin College who came to the U.S. as a Cuban refugee after the Cuban revolution.

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Practicing Christian Education

Author: David Smith, Director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College
Posted on: Apr 24, 2009

For anyone who teaches in any kind of Christian educational setting, I suspect that the best review of this book is an extremely brief one: if you have not yet read it, please do. It is one of the more winsome, wise, accessible, and suggestive books about Christian education that I have ever encountered, and this second edition with an added study guide by Syd Hielema is a fitting testimony to its value.

Vocation: Openness on the Path

Author: Bethany Cokewell, Class of 2011
Minds exclusive
Posted on: Apr 24, 2009

I am slowly learning to become open to different options for direction for my life, and listen to my own heart and to God for direction instead of the consistent nag of societal pressures and expectations.

Heading the Faith-full School

Author: Shirley Roels

Posted on: Nov 21, 2008

When you received your invitation for tonight and saw my title, “Heading the Faith-Full School”

Minds and Hearts in the Making

Author: Barbara Carvill, Professor Emeritus of German
Calvin College Fall 2005 Faculty Conference Address
Posted on: Aug 31, 2005

I always liked in life and fiction those scenes where people receive directions and a blessing before they embark on a major voyage. It always meant so much to me, for instance, when at the beginning of the Interim, before boarding the plane to Germany, I stood with my students and their parents in a circle at the airport and we prayed together for a safe and delightful journey. In a few minutes, we will do something like this as a college community.