Apr 24 2017
One of the most interesting parts of this week’s readings happened to be the five points made by Parker J. Palmer on how to educate the new professional. These five points are:
“(1) We must help our students uncover, examine, and debunk the myth that institutions are external to and constrain us, as if they possessed powers that render us helpless – an assumption that is largely unconscious and wholly untrue.
(2) We must take our students’ emotions as seriously as we take their intellects.
(3) We must start taking seriously the “intelligence” in emotional intelligence.
(4) We must offer our students the knowledge, skills, and sensibilities required to cultivate communities of discernment and support.
(5) We must help our students understand what it means to live and work with the question of an undivided life always before them.”
While reflecting on these five points, I realized that not only is Palmer speaking about students gaining a sense of empathy but he is also communicating that students need the ability to deal with ethical issues in various disciplines. My discipline already promotes these ideas partly because my discipline is based in the humanities but also due to the fact that international relations theory has ethics imbedded in it already. I have taken this for granted over time and realized that I need to make sure my students are able to face ethical issues in the discipline. The best way I can do this is through the use of problem based learning in the classroom.
Dan Edelstein supports this idea in his article. “Classes in the humanities not only offer students the best opportunities to practice innovative thinking, but also provide them with models for how to do so.” Not just interdisciplinary studies but transdisciplinary studies is just one of the ways this can be accomplished at the larger university scale. Virginia Tech is attempting to model this through the creation of Destination Areas. Destination Areas provide faculty and students with new tools to identify and solve complex, 21st-century problems in which Virginia Tech already has significant strengths and can take a global leadership role. The initiative represents the next step in the evolution of the land-grant university to meet economic and societal needs of the world. The process will result in the creation of transdisciplinary teams, tools, and processes poised to tackle the world’s most pressing, critical problems.
April 25, 2017 @ 15:23
Not everyone is happy with Virginia Tech’s destination areas, but I agree that it looks like they are trying to model some of Edelstein’s ideas, which is admirable. Hopefully they will accept feedback from the community as they go along and education will be enhanced as much as they hope it will.
April 25, 2017 @ 22:57
Maybe I have heard wrong about the destination areas, but I didn’t get much of an impression that they connected with these five points. Are you able to explain them a bit more? I am aware of the basic gist.
April 27, 2017 @ 10:17
Destination areas are indirectly connected to the Palmer’s five points. They are directly connected to Edelstein’s idea of being transdisciplinary. Addressing Palmer’s five points will be the task of the various disciplines and departments at Virginia Tech that will lend their bodies of knowledge to the destination areas. This is the idea on paper. I know my discipline has already said that they will hold up their end of the bargain to ensure that ideas like Palmer’s five points are addressed.
April 26, 2017 @ 11:50
Love the last gif! I personally wasn’t aware about the new initiative of ‘Destination Areas’. Im glad our university is taking action in those topics. One of the main problems is that people are unaware of the economic and societal needs of the world. Therefore, this will not only result in the creation of transdisciplinary teams, but also raise awareness to those worldwide issues.
April 26, 2017 @ 15:40
I enjoyed your post. I too think transdiciplinary agendas are important. I also agree that it is important for us to engage our students with ethical practice through problem based learning that is reflective of their field even if they are undertaking a PBL activity in a (for ex.) Humanities 1000 course that is outside of their field.
April 26, 2017 @ 16:19
Coming from a interdisciplinary program, I have been captivated by the notion of transdisciplinarity. I, too, am excited about the forays that VT is making into this vast and unexplored territory.
April 26, 2017 @ 16:28
I can’t agree with you more on the need for ethics classes. This is especially true in STEM fields. Don’t get me wrong, STEM students usually receive trainings on conducting ethical research. Unfortunately, they don’t receive enough training on how to ethically engage with people. STEM students deal with fellow students, faculty, and staff. It’s important that they know how to respectfully engage with these people in a variety of non research-related contexts. Eventually, STEM students will graduate and go on to be employees. They will need to ethically engage with coworkers and clients. From what I’ve seen, STEM students aren’t adequately prepared to do so. A more in-depth ethics education will only help these students become better employees, coworkers, and global citizens.
Rachel Kinzer Corell
April 26, 2017 @ 18:32
Your title for this reminds me of a punk song by a band called Rancid titled “Ruby Soho” (mostly because the course’s refrain of “destination! unknown” matches your blog title, but eh). This really holds true for me if we picture that song as a metaphor for education, where the feeling is related to pedagogy, and we think of ourselves as Ruby here:
“Ruby’s heart ain’t beatin cause she knows the feelin’ is gone
she’s not the only one who knew there’s somethin’ wrong
her lover’s in the distance as she wipes a tear from her eye
ruby’s fading out, she disappears, it’s time, time to say goodbye
Ruby ruby ruby ruby soho”
Thanks for taking me waaaay back musically, and letting me finding a way that this relates to us as teachers.
April 27, 2017 @ 10:19
As I was typing my title, I thought of Rancid! Thank you for seeing the connection between the song and teaching!
April 26, 2017 @ 20:06
“‘1. We must help our students uncover, examine, and debunk the myth that institutions are external to and constrain us, as if they possessed powers that render us helpless – an assumption that is largely unconscious and wholly untrue.'” Until you get fired that is maybe.