In: Aldona Bermudez31 May 2012
That everything is connected is not a new idea, but how can we be more aware of how we are connected to each other, and how can we join our minds to create something? If I hadn’t enrolled in the Media, Culture & Society master program, I probably wouldn’t be writing this piece, and I would not be reaching out to you through this medium. That’s why I would like to use this opportunity to share some of my learning experiences, addressing students and professors, with the intention to make you think about some of the questions I pose.
As I look back at all the schools I attended, I reflect on everything that I have learnt, and realize that I remember the experience of learning more intensely than the content learned. Teachers have a great, immense effect on the experience of learning. We can learn how to teach from teachers. To teach is a very virtuous thing to do, I see it more as an art than a skill, and I think we should try to practice teaching where it’s welcome in everyday life—not just a job. I remember my first day of school in The British School of the Netherlands when I was 9 years old. The teacher was explaining fractions, which I had learnt before, and I could not understand a word she was saying. I felt my jaw trembling and so I clinched my teeth and hardened my eyes—you know that thing you do when your body wants to cry as a reaction of some thought you had but you don’t want to cry because you don’t want to be seen as weak. I wanted to cry because I was used to understanding everything and the confrontation of not understanding what she was saying made me feel frustrated. I raised my hand and said “Excuse me teacher, may I go to the bathroom?” To which she replied: “Bathroom? You mean the toilet? We don’t bathe at school.” I felt embarrassed I had made a mistake to top it off, not aware that she was teaching me something, and that I should not take things personally. It’s for this same reason, that we as students should not get mad at professors if they don’t give us the grade we expected, just make sure you understand where you can improve. I personally regret not making appointments with professors during my masters to discuss my papers, because they were available.
Something valuable I learnt in education is not to be scared to ask “stupid questions,” but do check whether the answer is in your reading, and also try to think of an answer yourself—use your own reasoning, it adds value to the learning experience in the classroom. Another thing, in your writing, only use big words when it’s necessary. I know you want to sound academic and impress professors, but I believe their reading experience is not much different from ours. Nobody really likes reading pretentiously written articles. Just as we have to “get through” our reading, professors also have to “get through” our papers, so why not write in a way that makes this “getting through” a more pleasant experience?
How much can a student’s devotion to a class motivate professors to be even more devoted to the class? Do professors get offended by students who don’t seem devoted to their class? (How) does this affect them? And what is their attitude towards them, do they ignore it, or try to motivate the student? If our learning experience is largely defined by teachers, how do we as students define their experience of teaching? What is holding us back? And, how can we enhance our collective learning experience?
I think that we can start by connecting more with each other. I for one think more smiling is a good start – a positive vibe in class works magic.
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