“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” ~Lily Tomlin
Many of us, including faculty and students alike, spend a lot of time focused on the curriculum or course content that is “written in stone” in our textbooks or syllabi. Indeed these things are very important for us all to be thinking about, as we wouldn’t be doing our jobs as instructors if we didn’t teach those things, and conversely, as students we wouldn’t be learning the things necessary to be competent in a particular program of study. However, we often lose sight of the many valuable things that can be learned and gained in the classroom that do not come from the course textbook or syllabus. The best and most positive learning environments are ones where there is mutual respect and learning taking place. As faculty, what else, besides course content, are you teaching your students? Students, what for your classmates and instructors are you offering insight into?
I am teaching Introduction to Literature this quarter and we have had class discussions that stretch far beyond what students are reading in the text. The literature grounds our conversations, but we have explored topics in-depth that go far beyond what the literary greats introduced us to. The literary works serve as spring boards for discussion, and the students have taken their writing and comments to a new height.
I encourage all of us, faculty and students alike, to contemplate what we can share with and learn from one another in the classroom space. College should be a place and time where we can grow exponentially in all areas of life. Use your classroom as an area where you can reach new heights, conquer past fears, and discover that which you previously thought impossible.