One day this past summer, I found myself talking with a middle-aged New Ager about absolute truth, pluralism and Christianity. I thought this a rather odd event, since I was doing so with a staff member over lunch in a Christian nursing home.
Something even odder happened last semester in my STV class: I found the seemingly abstract concepts like constructivism to be a wonderful response to some of the questions my friend in the nursing home had been raising.
This realization was truly shocking, because from everything I had heard about classes like STV, no one ever learned anything really useful from them.
There are several classes at Eastern that are notorious among students for being boring or irrelevant, especially the core INST classes: INST 150, ST, and Justice.
Because of the reputations these classes hold, students tend to not take them seriously.
For instance, when choosing a professor under whom to take these courses, the big question is “how many papers do you have to write?”
This is a disappointing trend in Eastern’s community, a community that is supposed to be dedicated to the pursuit of learning and the application of the core values of faith, reason and justice.
The job of the INST courses is to make us more aware of the issues in the world around us and how we as Christians can respond to those issues using those core values. This is not to say that these classes are always as effective as they could be, or even that they are always interesting.
I was often bored in STV, and haven’t always understood the readings for justice. Some people won’t enjoy their service learning sites, and not everyone enjoys the philosophy presented in justice.
Despite the weaknesses of these courses, we can still learn something from the classes that will last us the rest of our lives. INST 150 taught me the value of service in individual lives and, as a result, I am more willing to engage in such service. STV showed me the worldview of our society and how to respond to it. Justice has already opened my eyes to the injustice my closest neighbors suffer and the justice God requires me to practice toward them.
Thus, we as students have a duty to take these classes seriously, if we take Eastern’s core values seriously.
After all, we never know when we’ll meet a seeker in a Christian nursing home and need the answer we heard in, of all places, STV.