The College’s new general education curriculum offers a great opportunity to get involved in teaching incoming students as they make the transition to college. In the last five years, most of my teaching has been with upper-level majors and graduate students, and I miss the intellectual excitement generated by new students. The pre-disciplinary Engagements offer a space to (re)discover intellectual play, to think broadly – even a bit wildly. The pre-disciplinary focus also facilitates big questions and a sense of possibilities, allowing, I hope, for an intensity that is sometimes lacking in the classroom.
Sociology is a discipline that few students encounter in high school, but it shares with many other disciplines an interest in patterns and in understanding how and why people do the things that they do. I’m excited about the chance to think through what this means in “big picture” terms. I see lots of possibility in asking questions about what “we” think knowledge is or how we decide what is even knowable. Different disciplines, and sub-disciplines, have different answers to these questions, so wrestling with them from multiple vantage points is really helpful.
The Engagements also offer a chance to think about how we learn and what a classroom is. I’m excited by the chance to incorporate different forms of learning, e.g., community-based or visual, into the standard formats of reading and discussion. The pre-disciplinary breadth and innovative character of the Engagements facilitate teachers-as-learners and students-as-teachers reversals, opening a space for building real learning communities.