STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 05/09/2016

Inspiration: Dr. Ivy George's "Dialogue-Shaped" Classrooms

by Marianthy Posadas-Nava '17

Vibrancy, life and empowerment form the spaces of Dr. Ivy George’s classes. She begins by outlining her expectations for us:

“I believe that at a very fundamental level, each of us houses the teacher and the learner in ourselves. Our lives, along with the world we live in, make up the center stage on which such activities take place. This being my conviction, it then follows that I, the ‘teacher,’ am a learner—and you, the ‘student,’ are a teacher as well.”

As we settle into those expectations, the class is shaped into a dialogue. Her stories of travels and her deep analysis of the world are woven into our stories, and into the learning of social theory. Her strong presence and love welcome me into her classroom. Here, I join with my peers to think critically and to engage with curiosity.

As a student from Mexico, I have been wrestling with many questions regarding my identity. In Dr. George’s classes, every narrative is welcomed. Suddenly there is space to explore. There is space to learn about the diversity of our intersected narrative, and to appreciate and honor the sacredness of the engagement of these narratives to further understand our world.

In her classroom, we experience the communal analysis—and confession—of the disparities between race, gender and class that are present not only in communities distant from us, but within us as well. In this space, we find intersections between race, class and gender that go unaccounted for by us. And it is a safe place to be confronted and to confront. This powerful class dynamic sets the stage, from the beginning, for our questions to naturally fall to the tip of our tongues.

Dr. George leaves space for her class to dismantle and rebuild, to critique and to dream. Christian liberal arts education comes to life in her classroom: we process our experiences and our world, and when we listen—to each other, to ourselves, to the social patterns around us—we find a God who is merciful. And in this space—our classroom—we are curious to imagine, to pray, and to work towards seeing those we are blind to, and towards hearing the voices we didn’t know we could learn from—voices intertwined with ours, and voices that we need.

Marianthy Posadas-Nava is an English major from Mexico; she’s also studying French. Taking Women and World Development with Dr. George greatly influenced her writing, and has launched her into studying literature through a feminist lens.