Connections – Episode 11

Jodie was amazed at how her professor’s learning through living were so transformational. They had remained with students many years after graduation.

I remembered the first day I had your lab class. You told us that we would be placed in lab groups for the entire semester. I hated that. First, I hated group work. Second, I hated being placed in a group rather than choosing my own. My experience was that there was always at least one free loader in each group. When you announced that we had to sit together in class, I almost lost it.

The first two labs confirmed my fears. We just couldn’t get our act together. That all changed with the third lab. Rather than a traditional lab, you asked us to plan and cook a team meal. Each of us had to cook a favorite dish from our family while another one of us would document what we saw in the cooking process. You wanted more than just cooking directions. You wanted us to ask our teammates to share memories of the item they were cooking while the team was eating our meal.

I don’t know what it was about that lab that changed our attitudes. First, we wanted to make our families proud by what we cooked. That required that we ask them for cooking guidance. We were observing as we never had before.

The real change came in the conversation during the meal. We began to see each other differently. My international teammate really opened up as she had never done before. My rural teammates shared their love of the outdoors. I was able to share with them my urban survival stories.

We really came together after that. Every one of us contributed in our own unique way to each lab. When scheduling time came, we chose our classes so we would be together again. Three years after graduation, my teammates came to my wedding, and we promised each other we would reconnect at each of our weddings.

Our company has a diversity program that could really use your expertise in bringing together diverse talents. Going to a mandated training program just doesn’t develop the appreciation of diversity as you did with that assignment.

As Jodie thought about this memory, she began to realize that if we think of learning as limited to what happens in a classroom then we are limiting what we be learned. Much of our learning needs to happen from living. Great teachers can provide the framework for those learning experiences.    

Sam – Class of 2001          

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