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For our final post, we each cover an overarching reflection or two from the 2014-15 academic year. Look for fresh content from the Wabash Center in the fall. In the meantime, feel free to visit our ongoing blog Race Matters in the Classroom or browse our Wabash Center YouTube channel.

Kate Blanchard

One thing I’ve learned from this year of reflections is how readily I dwell in the negative. My Blog 1generous co-authors have called my posts “raw” and “honest,” but I’m afraid what that really means is that I’ve been the George Costanza of this blog, always saying what is generally better left unsaid!

I realize that I did not invent professorial whining; it is a cultural habit that is highly contagious, and every time I join in I embed it further. My advice to those of you who also tend toward negativity is to attach yourselves to some really great colleagues who will help redeem it. In always asking what the take-away was, Roger and Eric encouraged me to move through the negative into something constructive that I could use.

Blog 2On the positive side, perhaps the most encouraging thing I learned this year is that I still like teaching. I like talking with students and thinking about how to foster their learning. They are people, after all, and people tend to be interesting if you’re paying attention. To be in a position to encourage them is an almost incomprehensible privilege that I don’t wish to squander. I’m grateful to Wabash for that reminder.

Eric D. Barreto

I always wondered how my professors could wax eloquent or at least talk for hours without much help. How could she answer our questions effortlessly? How could she lecture only with a handful of notes? 

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I have to admit that in my sixth year of full-time teaching, I don’t wonder this so much anymore. If anything, I’ve discovered a well of words that can bore any audience! I sometimes feel like Paul in Blog 5Acts 20:7-12. Unfortunately, that might make my students more like Eutychus than I care to admit.

But in that ability to speak about the things I care most about, I’ve discovered anew this year an important part of my vocation as teacher. My best teachers lived at a critical intersection of expertise and humility, deep knowledge and an insatiable appetite to learn, a drive to teach one’s students but also learn from them. Teaching requires dwelling in these tensions.

And perhaps the clearest but simultaneously most important tension in teaching is this: we are experts in our fields, but the same drive that sustained us through coursework, exams, a dissertation, hiring, tenure, promotion, and on and on also makes us wonder if we are adequate to the task. We are thoughtful people but that same thoughtfulness can be paralyzing.

In the end, I wonder if the most important lesson I take forward is that teaching is an act of courage but an act of courage precisely because we have to teach with humility, knowing full well that there is always much more to learn.

Roger S. Nam

In looking back at the 2014-15 academic year, I made ten overgeneralized observations about Korean graduate theology students: 

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1. Korean theology students rarely challenge professors in the classroom.

2. They would not dare address us by our first names or the even more informal, “Hey!”

3. Some (not all) have insanely diligent work ethics.

4. Rote memorization is easy for them.

5. Their English reading skills are much better than their English conversation skills.

6. They take notes so furiously that you’d think I was lecturing on the secret to cold fusion.

7. They like reading Western theologies and applying them to the Korean church with mixed results.

8. They are not comfortable with flipped learning as it diverts the locus of authority away from the professor (see 1).

9. They accept practices like attendance checks and pop quizzes.

10. During class, they may fall asleep or text incessantly. Sound familiar?

Blog 7The main takeaway? I am reminded of the importance of context in our classrooms. Korean students have vastly different skills, assumptions, values, obligations and learning goals, and I needed to adjust my pedagogical approaches accordingly. This is no easy job, even for me as an ethnic Korean!

With the changing demographics of religious and theological education, professors have a herculean task in creating an inclusive classroom environment. But I’m deeply encouraged by colleagues like Kate, Eric and others from Wabash Nation who continue to inspire me with their own stories from the front of the classroom.

Kate Blanchard

About Kate Blanchard

Kate Blanchard, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Alma College Kate is currently on sabbatical near Atlanta doing a collaborative project with Dr. Kevin O'Brien (a friend from her pre-tenure workshop) about Christian ethics and free market environmentalism. When not on sabbatical, she makes her home in Alma, Michigan, with her husband, Rev. Chris Moody, and their son, Gus, a dinosaur and train connoisseur. She has taught at Alma College Buy Modafinil Online, 100% Delivery Guarantee or your money. Order Modafinil & Armodafinil online from the only American-run buy modafinil vendor in the world. since graduating from Duke in 2006. She is the author of The Protestant Ethic or the Spirit of Capitalism: Christians, Freedom, and Free Markets (Cascade, 2010) and co-editor of "Lady Parts: Biblical Women and 'The Vagina Monologues,'" which includes six pieces authored by her students. She mouths off now and then at the Huffington Post, and very occasionally tweets at @blanchard_kate.

Eric D. Barreto

About Eric D. Barreto

Eric Barreto, Frederick and Margaret L. Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary. He loves great food, the recent TV renaissance, traveling, and Minnesota's fabulous summers. He is the author of Ethnic Negotiations: The Function of Race and Ethnicity in Acts 16(Mohr Siebeck, 2010) and the co-author of New Proclamation Year C 2013: Easter through Christ the King(Augsburg Fortress, 2013). These days, he is working on a book on the theology of ethnicity of Acts and how it might shape biblical imagination around diversity in churches today. He is also a regular contributor at the Huffington Post ( and hosts a monthly podcast on  For more, go to and follow him on Twitter (

Roger S. Nam

About Roger S. Nam

Roger Nam, Ph.D., is Professor of Hebrew Bible at Candler School of Theology/Emory University. His research interests include Ezra-Nehemiah, Northwest Semitics, diaspora studies, and ancient economies. He is the author of Portrayals of Economic Exchange in the Book of Kings (Brill, 2012) and The Theology of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (Cambridge University Press, 2023). He is presently working on two books: an Ezra-Nehemiah commentary for the Old Testament Library (Westminster John Knox) and The Economics of Diaspora (Oxford University Press).

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