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Letter to the Editor: ‘I am an individual in the community’
(Response to “QU 101 fails to stimulate,” published on Sept. 16)
Education can be defined as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life. To receive a good education is not to memorize facts and figures, but to observe and question all that is around us. We don’t want to live in a world of darkness and ignorance; we want to see the light and gain some knowledge. Yet somehow we still choose to be oblivious to what the outside world has in store for us. Education is all about interaction, understanding and accepting the things we don’t know or recognize.
One day in my QU 101 class, we discussed an article that appeared in the school newspaper, The Chronicle, about one fellow student’s opinion of her QU 101 course. She stated that QU 101 is a course that has no structure and no organization. It is a class where they have meaningless and ambiguous discussions that take up the whole 50 minutes. Within these discussions every statement is answered by a question. This question is one of the six course questions on which the course is based. These questions are the starting point of the discussions, which eventually branch out into deeper, more in depth discussions.
I suspect that my fellow student, throughout her previous years of education, was never given the time to learn new material or open her mind and freelance. She was always told to copy and memorize large amounts of notes and information, given by the teacher. The teacher will rarely comment on the information that is given but will require the students to observe the data and later be tested on it. She, along with the other students, was turned into a “container” to be “filled” by the teacher. By memorizing information and being told what everything is does not let us learn or experience reality for ourselves. If we are more open minded to different perspectives and we question the world around us, we can become more educated and in tune with our surroundings instead of just adapting to the world.
“Yet only through communication can human life hold meaning,” Paulo Freire once wrote. Only through discussions and interaction amongst other students can one truly find meaning in anything. During my QU 101 class, there is always open discussion. Sure, it may not be organized, but how can there be open discussion with organization? My instructor engages in our open discussions, not as a teacher but as an intrigued student. He maintains an open mind on any topic that arises while using his authority to keep the discussion in control.
This type of classroom environment no longer poses the student as just a listener, but it lets the student interact with the teacher, which allows for the teacher to also be taught through dialogue and discussions with the students. It lets the student ask questions to have a better understanding of the content. Questioning the world around us makes us more in tune with ourselves and our reality, consequently expanding our knowledge. In this problem-posing concept no one teaches another and no one is self-taught.
Questions, of both identity and community, are in the perspective of both the teacher and the student. My fellow student based her opinions on less than a month of classes. She says, “I just don’t see why we have to question what we’re told to do, and follow that up by a meaningless discussion.” She does not realize that she is in college now and not elementary school. No one in the real world is going to stand over her shoulder dictating what she should do next. These discussions are not meaningless; they are open to any idea that happens to arise. Sure, they may get off track and go against something you believe in, but that’s the point of discussions.
You share your feelings, opinions and comments about a topic, no matter what those may be. You are asked to question what you’re told to do in order to find out why it is that way or why you cannot do it this way. You try to find reason behind its essence. QU 101 is all about finding the reasons behind identity and the reasons behind wanting to belong to a community. I personally disagree with my fellow student on her opinion of the QU 101 course. It is one of, if not my most, favorite class. It showed me who I am as a person and how my experiences in certain situations affect other people around me.
In my judgment, I am an “individual in the community” in QU 101 and at Quinnipiac University.