Teaching in a Distant Classroom: Crossing Borders for Global Transformation

by Michael H. Romanowski and Teri McCarthy

Drawing upon their personal teaching experiences in nearly a dozen countries, Michael Romanowski and Teri McCarthy provide a highly useful and practical guide for three groups of evangelical Christians who teach overseas.

InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515, 220 pages, 2009, $17.00.

Reviewed by Lonna J. Dickerson, director, Institute for Cross-Cultural Training, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

Thousands of North American Christians cross borders each year in order to teach in universities, colleges, seminaries, and Bible schools. Whether they serve for a week, a month, a decade, or even a lifetime, these individuals go with the best of intentions and are eager to meet the needs of their students. The central problem, however, is that once overseas many find they are unprepared for the challenges of living and teaching cross-culturally. This results in frustration and diminished effectiveness in the classroom, and it also seriously damages their cross-cultural relationships and the quality of their Christian witness.

Drawing upon their personal teaching experiences in nearly a dozen countries, Michael Romanowski and Teri McCarthy provide a highly useful and practical guide for three groups of evangelical Christians who teach overseas: the seasoned veteran educator with minimal overseas experience; the professional expert who may be highly competent in a specific area, but is not a professional educator, and may also lack extensive overseas exposure; and the recent college graduate who brings energy and enthusiasm to the classroom, but often lacks effective teaching skills and depth of subject-matter knowledge, as well as significant cross-cultural experience. The authors’ goal is to help these individuals develop a Christian worldview and educational philosophy that prepares them not only to face the challenging realities of overseas living and teaching, but also to teach in a way that will bring glory to God and Jesus Christ in classrooms around the world.

The authors argue persuasively that Christian teachers must have the right motives for going overseas. They leave no doubt that an authentic Christian witness is possible only when teachers view their teaching as their calling, not merely as a ticket to get into another country. For example, they rightly admonish Christian English as a Foreign Language teachers to get the professional preparation they need before going overseas, rather than falling for the all-too-common myth, “If you speak English, you can teach it.”

For those planning to teach in a distant classroom and for those who prepare others to teach cross-culturally, I recommend this unique guidebook. I encourage readers to heed its warnings and follow its advice. Because many of its insights cannot be fully grasped without first experiencing daily life and teaching in another culture, I recommend reading this book before going overseas and then giving it an even more thorough reading after a few weeks in the new country.

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EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 2, pp. 252-253. Copyright  © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS. 

 


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