The Voice: Summer 2003
Dutch professor spends semester teaching history
By: Sally Jongsma
Dr. Roel Kuiper says hes returning to Holland with increased fluency in English
and a deep appreciation for the dedicated community of Christians at Dordt College.
As the semester drew to a close, he was thankful for the adventure
and the opportunity he and his family had to spend the sem-ester in
the United States at Dordt.
Its a precious thing to preserve and build on the Reformed heritage, he
says. Even after Im back in the Netherlands Ill be glad that Dordt
College is here and influencing and forming peoples lives.
Kuiper, who holds a teaching chair in Reformational philosophy at Erasmus University and
is also helping set up a more foundational program in social work at
the Zwolle Gereformeerde Hogeschool, took a semesters leave to fill Dr. Keith Sewells
position while Sewell was on study leave.
Weve always wanted to go abroad for a while with our family and
work in another community of Christian scholars, Kuiper says. His wife also took
a leave from her position on the city council in the city in
which they live.
Its important to be in touch with an international family of Christian scholars,
he says, adding that he has already talked with people in Dordts social
work department about developing cooperative efforts with Zwolle. He hopes that future cooperation
between Reformed scholars here and in the Netherlands will increase. Away from other
church and committee obligations, he also found time to write an article on
social philosophy this semester.
Kuiper appreciates the fact that hes been able to experience a different approach
to education. The campus system was unfamiliar to him. In the Netherlands, students
rent flats in the city rather than living in a close community on
campus. He feels that he came to know his students this semester better
than he does his students in the Netherlands.
Expectations are different here, he says. Students here come and talk to you
when they have questions. They look for guidance and expect the professor to
give it to them. Theyre hard working and respectful. Meeting with classes three
times a week instead of once a week creates more of a community
atmosphere. He plans to take some of what hes learned back with him.
My experiences with students have been very positive, he says.
He also finds American students worry too much about grades. In fact, hes
told them, This is not for a grade, this is for you to
know. Students in the Netherlands are often more cynical and critical, but they
debate and discuss more than the students hes taught here, he says.
Teaching in English has helped me become more fluent in the language, he
acknowledges. It also made his preparations take more time, since he felt he
had to write out his lectures first to make sure he used the
best words to communicate what he wanted to say. As the semester went
on, that too became easier.
Teaching in English is coming in the Netherlands, he says. His semester here
has helped prepare him for that, too.