Emeritus Professor Will Barratt starts second act — or third … or fourth, we’ve lost count — teaching in Malaysia.
If you know retired Bayh College of Education professor Will Barratt, you won’t be surprised to hear he will soon start a new job halfway around the world, teaching in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
But for those who don’t know him, Barratt has spent his life seeking new opportunities, no matter where they may take him. Born in California, Barratt grew up in New Hampshire, went to college in Wisconsin and attended graduate school in Ohio and Iowa. While serving as a faculty member at State, he lived in Budapest for a year and also spent a year in Beijing when his wife, Leslie, was awarded a Fulbright grant there. Leslie Barratt is the emerita chair of the department of languages, literatures and linguistics at State.
Since their retirement, he and Leslie have lived in Thailand, where he taught in the department of education at Roi Et Rajabhat University, where he mostly taught master’s and doctoral students.
“I have had a mobile life so far and consider myself a global nomad now,” Barratt said. “My background in educational leadership helps because of the wide variety of skills I have been able to develop over the years at ISU and while working abroad.”
Now, Will Barratt is a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Malaya for the 2018-19 academic year. He will be teaching graduate students in the Institute of Educational Leadership and in the department of educational management, planning and policy.
“Fortunately for me, all teaching will be conducted in English,” Barratt said. “We will work out my teaching schedule once I get to campus. I will also try to work on collaborative research and service projects with my colleagues there, as is culturally appropriate.”
This latest global adventure is all part of the Barratts’ retirement plan — or lack of retirement, that is.
“Before leaving ISU, Leslie and I decided that we were going to have an adventure and that included continuing to teach full- or part-time,” Barratt said. “After coming to conferences in Thailand a few times, we asked the president of Roi Et Rajabhat University if we could teach on that campus for a few years. RERU is like ISU in many ways in that the students come from a variety of backgrounds and are interested in using education to improve their lives.”
His application for a Fulbright to Malaysia was prompted by the experience of living in an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) country. He saw “the wonderful things that are going on and realized that I can bring some knowledge and skill to a campus in a culturally appropriate way.”
His Fulbright is one of only three such grants offered in Malaysia this year. “The Fulbright programs are designed for scholars to build relationships across cultures, and I’m pleased to be part of that group,” Barratt said. “I look forward to learning more during this experience so that I can teach more and work more effectively.”
So why Southeast Asia?
“Leslie and I decided that we don’t like cold weather any more, so we want to only live where it is warm,” Barratt said. “And ASEAN countries are working together to build their economies. Education is part of that process, so being part of that economic and educational development is very exciting. The differences in cultures and histories here require adjustments in leadership models and styles, and this is a great challenge to me — and a great learning experience.”
At Indiana State, Barratt taught in the student affairs and higher education master’s program, along with the higher education leadership doctoral program. State has designated Barratt as the Lotus Delta Coffman Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the department of educational leadership.
“(The graduate programs) were a great match for my interests and abilities,” he said. “Both programs are small, with 15-20 students admitted each year, and are — for me — an ideal learning and teaching environment.”
No matter where he is teaching in the world, Barratt still draws on what he learned at Indiana State when developing classes, workshops and keynote speeches.
“We are invited to lots of conferences here, so we get to help many people learn many things,” he said. “ISU provided me with many opportunities and experiences that have shaped my career trajectory. I constantly use what I learned at ISU and continued to pick up new skills teaching in Thailand. I have been adding new writing projects and partnering with new colleagues on all kinds of things. This all builds on what experiences I had at ISU.”
Everyone could learn from travelling to another country and experiencing a new culture, Barratt said.
“I can only refer to the famous Mark Twain quote: ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.’
“Visiting a culture new to you is a learning experience,” Barratt said. “Living in a new culture is an intensive workshop in the human experience. I know that I am a better teacher and learner for having lived in different cultures, and perhaps I am becoming a better and kinder person. I certainly know that I have developed a global perspective on education.”
Despite living many miles from Terre Haute, Barratt is still on the lookout for Sycamores.
“I wear my ISU blue polo shirts regularly and with pride and look forward to finding some ISU alumni in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.