“We are an intentional community committed to developing a pedagogical praxis using inclusive pedagogy and problem-based learning to support active learning across a broad range of contemporary teaching sites. We come from diverse disciplines, backgrounds, and orientations to consider how we might leverage the passion that drew us to our academic fields of inquiry to ignite the curiosity of our students. As 21st-century educators we use a broad array of teaching technologies, and are especially attentive to the power of networked learning environments to amplify our work. We are committed to the transformative potential of education and to using our compassion and expertise to make the world a better place.”
— GEDI S2017 Syllabus, by Dr. Amy Nelson
Before I decided to register this class, I was told by my friend (senior grad) that it would significantly impact my view of high education and teaching job. I didn’t take her words very serious as I actually didn’t mean to be a teacher. I mean, at that moment.
Why I would choose this class. Partially because I’m always told by many people that my personality is suitable for being a teacher and I can be a very good teacher. Another reason is that I want to see if I am really competent for being a teacher. I want to see if I can really handle this ordinary but sacred job.
It was the first time for me to have such a big class at Virginia Tech. Students from all kinds of departments or disciplines sit around to talk about what is higher education, network and technology, inclusion and diversity, authenticity and responsibility, philosophy and pedagogy, learner-centered syllabus, problem-based case learning, and the most importantly, what it means to be a teacher/educator in the 21st century.
Honestly, I was astounded. My head was installed by so many stuff that I would never get a chance to think deeply about. To put in this way, I thought that I’d understand most of the things that discussed in class. However, every time after class discussion, I had to say that I was far from the spiritual of higher education and educators. I acknowledge that my (Eastern) education is drastically different from Western education and, honestly, different in a worse sense. I acknowledge that we need to put determination and effort to reform our education so that we can be in accordance with the call of the new century. However, I feel very upset that I don’t know how to put my determination and effort to make a difference. When all (most of) the students talk about how to change the student, change the class, change the university, change the system, change the world, all I see is that is it really that easy – is that really easy to say I can make a change and do things that really make a change?
As I ask myself many more times, I’m more confused and lost. I don’t understand what kind of role can I play to change the world. It feels so big to me and I don’t think I can handle it. I talked with my friend, and she said to me that, “I totally understand your feeling as I went through all the struggles in that class. In fact, the real gain for me during that class wasn’t about how to teach a class. It was all about how to teach ourselves.” YES! That is exactly what I’ve struggled with. I always try to figure out how to be a teacher or how to teach a class. The fact is that I never try to figure out how to teach myself – how to decompose all my views, thoughts and experiences, to figure out what constraints myself from deeply reflecting the past and envisioning the future. If I can’t understand myself, how would I understand the education that made me who I am? Then, how would I understand the way that I could use to make the education better?
I feel that I’ve complained my education a lot. However, after getting surprised once and once again during the class, I realize that I myself (we ourselves) should be blamed as well. We use the “our education is rigid and complicated” excuse to defend ourselves, ignoring that we are the ultimate reason that makes the education “rigid and complicated”. If we truly want to make a difference, we have to truly know ourselves and change ourselves. Have said to this point, I really want to say THANK YOU to you, Dr. Amy Nelson. Thanks for all the efforts that you’ve made to this class and to us. Every course arrangement, every reading material, every class discussion, everything you said and made is awesome. It has significantly impacted me, as is what my friend just told me beforehand.
Education is a huge system that covers not only the education itself, but the whole society. It covers not only about the educators/learners in school, but every single person in the society. It is a public good that desires our determination and effort to make it a positive externality. Though we might be the tiny pieces of the whole system, we are undoubtedly the pivotal parts that make it functioning as a spacecraft to explore the great and bright future.
I hold my belief that we will make education better, make tomorrow better.