Friday, September 14, 2012

Week 4: An insightful first week of classes

Post by Buay Tut

Even though this week marked the official start of our first full week of classes, classes have really been in session since the first day we landed in Johannesburg, South Africa. From the Hector Peterson Museum to meeting with Representatives from the ANC and the DA; these museums, historical sites, and lectures have facilitated insightful and motivating discussion among our group.  We constantly had to think critically and analyze the information presented to us in these unofficial classrooms.  It is this kind of critical thinking, inter-active, co- learning community which I have seen take shape in our first week of classes. Our courses utilize lectures, guest speakers, and field trips to help us gain an all-around understanding of the issues and topics covered.

Team building during week 1 also
played an important role in forming our
interactive, co-learning community
Our small class sizes make for great engagement and participation in discussion. I am also very happy with the student-centered approach taken by CGE in which many different types of learning techniques and styles are taken into consideration and utilization. Most of the learning takes place in our very own living room where we meet for most class sessions. I am very happy with this arrangement as classes have felt more like an exchange of ideas and discourse between each other. 

During this first week of classes we covered topics spanning religious identity, yoga philosophy, post-apartheid constitutionalism and an introduction to the traditional people of Namibia.

Wednesday morning we had our first religion course taught by Rev. Dr. Paulus Ndamanomhata. In this initial meeting we each presented on the development and evolution of our own critical analysis of religion and social change. We focused on what we saw the role of religion or spirituality to be in our lives and how it has created change in our communities, country and in the world. During this course we had a discussion pertaining to the role that parents should play in facilitating religious exploration for their children. The overarching question in this discussion was, should parents wait until their children were old enough and let them decide what religion to practice?

I personally felt it was perfectly fine for parents to bring their children up in whatever religious forum they saw fit. The bases for my belief was parents will always want what’s best for their children, and no parent would deprive their child of something they see to be beneficial or they themselves partake in. I also felt parents should be open and honest in facilitating discussion and questions from their children concerning religion.
Students gathering in the living room before classes begin
This spirit of discourse continued into our first history course on Thursday where we explored questions such as why we study history, and the many different methods of historical enquiry available. We discussed how history is often told and written favoring the perspective of those in power. 

We concluded the week with Yoga and Political Science. In Politics we discussed the role which constitutions and constitutionalism has played in Africa, focusing on the role which foreign and international parties should have played in the drafting of African Constitutions. We also discussed whether a perfect constitution, which reflects the realities of society and is regarded by all inhabitants of a nation, could ever exist.

This quote by Nelson Mandela best captured my feelings during the first week of classes.

“No single person, no body of opinion, no political doctrine, no religious doctrine can claim a monopoly on truth.” –Nelson Mandela

No comments: