Every fall I teach Prelude, a six-week course that all first-year students are required to take as an introduction to the Calvin community and the culture of learning here. Prelude focuses on the following topics: the value of community, worldview(s), cultural discernment, responsible freedom, justice and reconciliation, and calling and vocation. Some students like this course; some don’t!
Students evaluate every course and instructor at Calvin, but what I wanted to know was what did my students take away from this course? What was worthwhile and worth remembering? What did they learn? So I asked them to tell me in a paragraph or two.
Here’s what the Calvin College Class of 2013 learned so far. I look forward to hearing the rest of their stories down the road.
What did you take away from this course?
- “I didn’t learn anything! Your class was boring information wrapped around boring readings written by boring authors I never heard of.”
- “I don’t remember learning anything; but I really didn’t read the material or pay much attention in class. Sorry.”
- “Prelude made me think about what’s important to me, my worldview. I guess that’s what I learned.”
- “I learned and will remember that you got fired from a great job before coming to Calvin, survived it and lived happily ever after. That’s what I remember. I hope I never get fired from a job!”
- “I learned how to move forward with my career choice decision, but I’m still not certain. I learned to accept uncertainty.”
- “I heard a lot of success and failure stories. I don’t plan to fail. If I do fail, I’ll know how to handle it.”
- “Prelude reminded me that we are all God’s children, but we’re all different. We all pursue some things that satisfy and some that never will.”
- “My poster depicts what I thought about, learned and will remember from Prelude.”
- “I learned from you and others that I can’t clearly know my vocational future now, but I can take small steps forward. Your comment that ‘the Spirit of God will not lead me where the grace of God will not support me’ is worth remembering.”
- “The readings were dull, but the class and classmates were interesting because we are all quite different in the way we look at things—I guess that was learning.”
- “Mostly I’ll remember the quote you shared about vocation from Barbara Brown Taylor, ‘Do whatever you want for a vocation, but always take God along.’”
- “I’ll remember that ‘the Christian life is about believing and responding to the gospel.’ That sounds simple, but isn’t.”
- “I learned that my job now is to ‘be a student, the best student I can be’—bummer!”
- “I will remember that not having a career plan as a freshman is normal—that I have time to sort out a career plan. Maybe you could tell my parents that I’m normal!”
- “From fourth grade to ninth grade, three lost boys from Sudan lived in my family—that was the most incredible learning experience of my life.”
- “I learned that praying big prayers on my knees makes sense. Pastor Mary said, ‘sometimes we need to empty ourselves before God.’ I’ll remember that.”
- “I learned from reading Nicholas Wolterstorff that a person needs two eyes—the eye of knowledge and discernment and the eye of the heart the eye that weeps.” That’s what I’ll remember most from Prelude.”
- “I learned that worship here is just practice for eternal worship.”
- “Prelude was an empty vessel, can’t say I really learned anything.”
- “Prelude was a blast, you were a blast. Read my papers, Dude! That’s what I learned. I’m not telling you again.”
- “I’ll remember what you said about the value of time—that time is a gift from God. I think you said that?”
- “I learned that the tutoring I do at a city school won’t end injustice and racism in the world, but it’s something I can do now to seek justice and shalom.”
- “I learned that time is a gift, wisely use it, (read, investigate, meditate.) I have been blessed, I can change the world.”
- “I learned from service learning that volunteering at Cook Art Center is God’s way of calling me to be an elementary teacher. I learned that God is holding me in His hands.”
- “I learned from you and “The Eagles” to learn to be still—to take time to be still, to listen, to listen, to listen to God as He speaks to me through others.”
- “Can’t say I learned anything.”
- “I learned that my decision to come to Calvin, study nursing then go to Africa where my brothers are is my calling.”
- “I gave a homeless man who was standing on a street corner carrying a sign—‘Homeless, Hungry and Need Work,’ the apple and oatmeal cookies I had in my car. I learned a lot when he said, ‘Thank you and God bless you!’”
- “Of all the messages I learned in Prelude, none gave me more peace and security than this: I belong. I belong to Calvin, I belong to my friends, I belong to my family and I belong to God’s family—the community of Christian believers.”