I’m still reflecting on Thursday’s class where I asked students to define education and to discuss why they are taking this course and what they bring to it. (I gave them the questions in advance and asked for written answers.) I am sensitive to the fact that some colleagues might question why I spent class time discussing something not directly related to the topic of the course: globalization. My response could have been that a first year seminar is supposed to be an introduction to the university, not in the sense of our institution per se, but in the sense of intellectual life. That is what I was thinking when I planned the class session.
But as I think about how the students responded to the assignment. I find that I am learning a great deal about each of them as individuals, which of them think in the abstract, which of them think on a more down-to-earth level, which might be politically conservative or liberal, and perhaps most interesting, what they see as their weaknesses.
One student wrote,
The one weakness for sure would be talking in class, because I am a very shy person and although I may have ideas or opinions on certain issues, it takes me awhile to feel confident enough to voice them.
Iâ€™m also handicapped in that Iâ€™m not particularly trustful of technology.
I am pleased that they took the assignment seriously, that they didn’t treat it as merely an assignment for a grade or for credit. They revealed things about themselves as students that will help me make this a more effective learning experience for everyone involved, as I think about how to address those weaknesses, and hopefully turn them into strengths.
In short, I think we are connecting in a way that doesn’t usually happen this early in the semester, if it happens at all.