by Judith E. Lingenfelter and Sherwood G. Lingenfelte
What does it mean to be an effective educator in a cross-cultural context? While several books have been written on contextualization and cultural values, very little has been written on the specific application of these ideas to the realm of teaching and learning.
Baker Books, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, 2003, 133 pages, $12.99.
—Reviewed by Rhonda M. McEwen, Trinity International University, Deerfield, Illinois.
What does it mean to be an effective educator in a cross-cultural context? While several books have been written on contextualization and cultural values, very little has been written on the specific application of these ideas to the realm of teaching and learning. Teaching Cross-Culturally fills an important void in Christian mission literature.
Drawing upon their combined years of cross-cultural experience and research, the Lingenfelters provide a valuable contribution to all seeking to minister cross-culturally—whether at home or abroad. Highly readable, this book will interest both the seasoned and novice missionary. Replete with helpful charts and diagrams, it includes thought-provoking research and reflection questions at the end of each chapter.
The authors begin by acknowledging the cultural context of learning. “Throughout the pages of this book, we will try to help you gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of the cultural beings we call students and of the diverse opportunities you have as a teacher to create a context in which they can learn and grow” (18).
The authors use Christ’s incarnation as a powerful analogy for teaching cross-culturally. Like Jesus we “should begin as learners, listening, and asking questions. Our responsibility is to love the people to whom we go and to give up part of our identity and values for their sake to become effective servants of Christ among them” (22).
The Lingenfelters devote a chapter to the important concept of a “hidden curriculum”—cultural learning that surrounds the much smaller “stated curriculum” of schooling. Several chapters focus on traditional learning strategies and formal schooling. The authors advocate a balanced approach, stating that the goal of the incarnational teacher is “to create a learning context that is familiar to students yet stretches them beyond their previous experiences. A teacher leads students to understand the place and purpose of traditional and formal learning and helps students understand and use both” (52).
Teaching for Change, a helpful chapter, could be further enhanced by insights on transformative learning—particularly its implications for Christian mission education. A wider variety of case studies and more specific curricular implications would also be welcome additions.
While this book emphasizes what is necessary for effective cross-cultural teaching, its insights are invaluable for anyone seeking to communicate the gospel in a cross-cultural context.
Check these titles:
Elmer, D. H. 2002. Cross-cultural Connections. Stepping Out and Fitting In Around the World. Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press.
Lingenfelter, S. G. and M. K. Mayers. 1986. Ministering Cross-culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.
Vella, J. K. 2002. Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach: The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults, rev. ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.
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