Interactive education has a lifelong impact on students

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 at 5:51 PM

Every one of us, I think, has at least one story of a great moment of humanity shown towards us. For me, so many of those precious moments of human kindness revolve around teachers, and now the professors, who have taught me. 

In elementary school, it was the teacher who went out of her way to acknowledge my hard work by mailing me presents the summer after the school year ended. 

In middle school, it was the math teacher who read and critiqued my cringey fan-fiction.

 In high school, it was the various teachers who reassured me that all hardship passes, who guided me through the college application process when they realized I had no one to ask, who cheered for me and checked in with me even after I was no longer in their classes. And now in college, it is the professors who push me to do my best, who inspire me to learn more than what they present in class about a subject — who listen to my crazy ideas and help me put them into action. 

It’s hard to put the value of a great teacher into words. 

So, when I’m stuck in a class where a professor waxes on and on in monotone on a subject, provides little to no feedback on student standing in a class, and grades students on two to three exams a semester, I am frustrated to no end. Because I personally know the impact of good educators. 

My dissatisfaction stems from two roots: 1) instructors who discourage class activity and 2) instructors who treat teaching students like yet another task on their to-do list.  

On my first complaint: I’ve actually had a professor write in their syllabus, “Do not ask questions in class.” 

Humans are tactile creatures. At the end of the day, listening to someone talk about something is not going to be the same as actually doing, or experiencing doing the same thing. I argued a few weeks ago that college is no longer vocational, and I will continue to make that point here: lecturing used to teach us information for our future jobs, but now more and more the classes we are taking in college are pure education. They (college courses) serve to round us out as holistic individuals who have the basic skills required to complete a college-level class. 

That means that talking us through a concept or theory is useless. Because we are just going to memorize it for an exam, and for many of us, delete it from our memory to store more space for the next barrage of information. 

And forgotten information is a waste of time and money. Think about this. I spent almost $1,000 on a summer class about a year ago. For almost three months, we met every day and were lectured to for almost four hours. Every. Single. Day.  One year later and a $1,000 poorer, I can say that I remember not one thing about that class.                                                                       

On the other hand, I took an art history class that was interactive, interesting and very much group exercise. I can still tell you the architectural differences between a Romanesque and Baroque church floor plan. 

When I say interactive I don’t mean technology or apps. I mean questioning the what, whys, and hows of different disciplines. 

For many, this is the last time they will ever be in an institution dedicated solely to education. We choose our specific majors, minors and concentrations because we have an interest in those disciplines of learning. When professors teach classes as though they are teaching future colleagues rather than clients, that leaves a lasting impact. 

Shayma Musa can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com.

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