Memorization is not teaching

The passage that stood out to me the most in Chapter 2 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire was, “It is not surprising that the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable, manageable beings. The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world. The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.”

The reason why this passage stood out so much was because I felt like I was not properly prepared by my high school teachers into entering college. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe I had a good education growing up 30 minutes outside the nation’s capital, but there were many key skills that I was never taught and had a steep learning curve my first year in college. First off, Virginia public schools are all about Standard of Learning (SOL) assessments. This forces our educators to stick to a set curriculum and impose memorization skills rather than critical thinking skills. When it came time for me apply my thoughts in writing my first college essay, I was not the best at articulating my thoughts, and it did not help that I was more so a math and science person; I failed miserably. Furthermore, the type of memorization training I had in high school initially hindered my engineering education. I was so used to memorizing equations and how to solve math problems that when I was faced with an engineering question that required me to apply those skills, I did not know where to start. Of course, I soon adapted to the way teaching should have been done during my high school career, but I also saw a lot of my peers struggle and ultimately quit engineering programs to switch to less vigorous disciplines or drop out of college all together. We must change our philosophy on teaching methods in order to create a generation that is more so critical to solving complicated worldly problems that do not have direct black or white solutions.

Embracing Diversity = Amazing Results

I wholeheartedly agree with the article, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” by Katherine Phillips. Not only does she tackle the benefits of diversity from a business perspective, but she challenges the notion from a social aspect. Growing up in Northern Virginia, which surrounds the DC metropolitan area, I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience many different cultures, races, foods, sports, and entertainment to just name a few. Additionally, my educational training was above average even though I went to a public school. The┬ádiversity among the students, staff, and teachers contributed to the success of the educational level offered and also challenged me to think outside of the box as cliche as it sounds. Growing up with diversity has definitely contributed to my success as a first generation college student.

Phillips’ statement, “The fact is that if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving,” stands out greatly for me. As an environmental engineer, we collaborate among scientists and engineers across many disciplines, including biology, chemistry, physics, food science, human nutrition food and exercise, computer programming, and statistics to name a few. I had the opportunity to collaborate with food scientists halfway across the world in Portugal last year. That opportunity gave me the ability to look at my research with a whole different perspective, and resulted in a well written journal paper. All in all, never underestimate the power of diversity in all aspects of making this world a better place.