I’ll be honest I am not very cross-cultural. People say my husband has a black heart, meaning he’s an African with white skin. They don’t say that about me. I stink at being culturally sensitive. Like when I fed salad to Indians who later informed me in their country only cows eat lettuce. Or when I brought 300 necklaces to Romania only to find out the women weren’t allowed to wear them. They interpreted 1 Peter 3 to mean they couldn’t wear makeup, jewelry or fancy clothes. See what I mean, I stink when it comes to being cross-cultural.
So that’s why I wasn’t real excited to train women to teach in South Sudan. I knew I would stink at it. To be honest, I’m not sure how well it went. I think they got something but not as much as they needed to be fully equipped.
One evening at dinner the American group asked me how it was going. I confessed I was discouraged. I didn’t think I was connecting. I was grateful for their encouragement but really I needed to hear from Jesus. I needed him to show me what was missing, why wasn’t it connecting.
He did. He brought to mind how they teach children to learn in South Sudan (and other parts of Africa). Children sit at their desks and copy the teacher’s writings from the chalkboard. The teachers themselves aren’t that trained, for example a teacher who finished third grade qualifies to teach second grade. I mean after all he passed primary 2 didn’t he? So much of the teaching is a teacher writing the textbook on the board and kids writing and memorizing it. It’s rote memorization.
What I was teaching was critical thinking, where one has to ask questions, put together pieces, analyze and synthesize. This is not a skill these women have at least not academically. Now don’t get me wrong they used those skills to learn how to use a nut to make cooking oil and soap but they didn’t know how to apply it to studying the Bible.
I decided when I get back to the States I’m going to learn how to train people to move from memorization to critical thinking. Funny thing is The Marcella Project is trying to help women think critical of theology, Bible and Jesus in the States. I guess we are going to continue that goal beyond… to the women of South Sudan.
Lord teach me so I can teach others.