On my spiritual education

In this blogpost I discuss why it is important that educational institutions learn to serve the people attending the institution rather than following an intellectual idea of what education should be about.

Aka enthusiasm vs disappointment

In this blogpost I express my distress, upset and sense of helplessness with regards to the educational organization where I am studying. 

If you believe that spirituality and spiritual people are supposed to be free of negative emotions, pls do not read this post. Thank you.

I am someone who loves studying and leaning new things. I often go from one course to another because I always feel the need to expand my horizons, learn new skills, and go with the times.

It is partly because I am an educator and I believe that in order to serve my student the best, I need to know about the latest. I must be up to date with the times, the trends, how teaching and learning changes, and about the latest gadgets of learning support.

As I see it, teaching must serve the student. Not vice versa. About a hundred years ago, we all believed that teachers were some kind of authority of knowledge who had power over us. Today, teaching is more about guidance than knowledge. Knowledge is attainable at every corner but trustworthy guidance is still a commodity. 

Apart from being an educator, I am also a ‘traveller’. I have lived in about 5 different countries in 3 continents and worked in many more. Over the years I learnt that though we are similar in our humanity and one in our spirituality, we are also very different in our cultures and race. All of these need to be respected equally. 

When I started my spiritual education I did not know what I got myself into. While in the US in about 2017, a minister – and beloved friend – suggested a school that she thought would provide me with the spiritual foundation that I needed. 

On her advice, I started my M.A. in Divinity at a well known institution. After a year, however, I did not feel that I was on the right path and so I left. Though the courses  were interesting and practical, I felt that I was still looking. As I understand now, I was looking for connecting with God more deeply though my studies.

A year later, I started to attend a set of courses that launched me into a completely new sphere of life that I had known nothing about. This set of  18 courses gave me an in-sight into a level of spiritual understanding that I had been searching for decades. I suppose, the student had become ready to start her journey. 

The courses, their structure and the additional support I received from the Urban School were exemplary. By the time I finished with the foundation courses, I  had became an enthusiastic convert who found her calling. I decided to become a minister, what’s more, I decided to work with children and families. 

I could not wait for my ministerial education to start. Little did I know then about the confusion that I was getting myself into. 

During the first year, I was in heaven. 🙂 I was taking courses that open me and my spirit to new heights. I studied and learnt skills I never knew about before! I simply loved every course I was taking. 

I will be forever grateful for the opportunity and the amazing support The Unity Urban Ministerial School gave me. I am thankful for every course I took and the additional support I was offered at every turn. 

After about a year on the ministerial path, I suddenly learnt that because I wasn’t a resident of the US, I was required to move from the American school to another one that ‘dealt’ with foreigners. The so-called IMP course structure and content was very different from what I had gotten used to. After about a year studying at two institutions, one for quality and one for the ‘paper’, I completely lost my enthusiasm.

The entire educational program that is supposed to prepare me to become a shepherd of souls and a guide to the lost, has became a nightmare of paper pushing and dealing with general ignorance about cultural differences, and the needs of Generation X, Y, and Z!

It became apparent to me that the educators who create the ministerial educational program for foreigners (international program) – those outside of the US – have forgotten to check out WHO they prepared this program for and why. 

To my knowledge, the educational advisor who is in charge of the international program has never been to Europe and knows nothing of the general standard of education or the structure of the educational systems in Europe. This program lacks focus and a general understanding of what issues a minister in Europe may face. This ministerial program offers some understanding of the principles of the church and its organizational structure, however, it offers nothing to enable a minister to work with real issues, particularly that of the younger generations. 

Each time I have attempted to gain an audience with the person in charge of the international program, I was ignored. I have worked as an educator for over 30 years so I suspect that I could contribute to the formation of an international ministerial program that is relevant and practical. I may not know what makes a great minister but I am sure I know what makes a good school. 

A good school listen to its students and responds to their needs. A good school prepares its students for the future, not glorifies the past! A good school is relevant and current. 

I won’t even mention, the importance of a good teacher who would come as a  matter of course  with a good school. 

Recently I encountered a teacher who failed me three times in three different subject. First time, it is understandable. The second and third time I felt that I was picked on. Naturally, this incident can be conceived as a great example of a caring teacher who wants to make sure that you learn your lessons so you can become the best of yourself.

I used to believe that, too! Not any more!

The best way to teach someone is to inspire them to do well. I am still a believer of tough love but not too tough. Appreciating and respecting differences create an openness in the students that allows them to perceive and embrace the material presented to them. Condemnation and failing create friction and closedness that prevents absorption of the material presented.

When it comes to spiritual studies the worst thing a teacher can do is, after enabling a student to become open and vulnerable, to take advantage of this vulnerability and judge the student for ‘negligence’.

Another thing I noticed with this particular teacher was ‘assuming the worst’. Assumption is a silly human contrition where we fill in the gaps with our own imagination. Where she lacked facts on the reasons behind my actions, she seemed to fill these in with ‘judgements’. 

As I teacher, it is true, that I prefer studies and obliging students who follow my advise. However, it is not my job to enforce that they do! My job is to offer support, tailor the material in a way that my students find it interesting and engaging, and that I am inspiring enough as an educator so my advice is being followed.

Where there is force, there is resistance!

I still hope that I will find the courage and the willingness to finish my education at IMP because I would like to be the minister and educator I have been blabbering about above. 

Being and acting as as spiritual advisor and educator is the most responsible job, I can imagine. Supporting and enabling people to become aware of their unique essence that is a spark of the all-encompassing Divine Presence, is