Final Reflections

I was traveling last weekend and had decided to bring with me Ann Patchett’s book of essays, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I was on the plane flying back to Charlotte when I got to the essay, “Fact vs. Fiction.” It was originally her convocation speech to the Miami University of Ohio in 2005. The essay/speech began with discussing her best friend, whom she had met in college. About halfway through the essay/speech was when I got excited about this particular essay. Below is what she wrote:

“There are two kinds of educational experience you can have in college. One is passive and one is active. In the first, you are a little bird in the nest with your beak stretched open wide, and the professor gathers up all the information you need and drops it down your gullet. You may feel good about this–after all, you are passionately waiting for this information–but your only role is to accept what you are given. To memorize facts and later repeat them for a test might get you a good grade, but it’s not the same thing as having intellectual curiosity. In the second kind, you are taught to learn how to find the information, and how to think about it, for yourself. You learn how to question and engage. You realize that one answer is not enough and that you have to look at as many sources as are available to you so that you can piece together a larger picture….Everyone adds a chip of color to the mosaic and from there some kind of larger portrait begins to take shape.”

In many ways, this one paragraph summed up my teaching philosophy and many of our discussions in class this semester.

The essay/speech goes on to discuss how after you have forgotten the classes taken, the books read, the papers written, you remember the people you met while in school. As I reflect back on this course, I find that true. Though I have gotten to know many new people who I may not have encountered otherwise from across campus and that I did not get to know all, I know that through this course we have a large community of budding scholars and professors who are willing to think hard and work harder to progress higher education into the 21st century. I am excited to be the future of higher education with all of you.

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