4.2: Democratic Learning Communities

In ANR 210 as well as all the Bailey Scholars core courses we challenge the typical college classroom structure. Right off the bat, we are asked to construct our own syllabus. As you can or maybe cannot imagine, this takes a lot of thought and discussion. We as students are so used to getting handed our materials, due dates, and assignments and now we are given the chance to decide how the course will be run. The thing is we are all individuals. We come with our own set of opinions and experiences that fuel those opinions. I think the most valuable and challenging skill that I will take away from the Bailey core courses is the skill of dialogue and really reflecting on the views of others when coming together on a project. We see a trend in society where there is a popular opinion and an unpopular one; and most of the time we flock around the person that goes against the majority and yell in their face, trying to force them to conform. I personally believe this is not productive.

I believe that dialogue between humans should be approached with the goal of coming together. Not dividing and ostracizing. To do this, we need to suspend our own thoughts and beliefs and self-reflect on our initial assumptions. This could be by asking clarifying questions, thinking before speaking, and trying to stay as neutral as possible in both language and mannerisms. It is about staying humble and willing to learn more. I experienced this recently. This semester I am a ULA for a math course here at Michigan State. I run study tables a couple of times a week and I had this one student come in to help prepare for an upcoming exam. As I was going through a problem, I noticed that he was approaching it using a different method than I was, and I immediately tried to correct it and explain the way I was solving the problem. This ultimately ended with us getting the exact same answer with two different methods. It was a great reminder that there can be more than one way of solving a problem and different individuals think in different ways depending on how they learn, their experiences, etc. This is a notion that I also think is important not only in academics but in life, and how dialogue should be. I am looking forward to honing this skill throughout ANR 210.


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