As I am wrapping up this semester, I say goodbye to another class full of what is my favorite course to teach. The students, who are part of an interdisciplinary educational program at Baylor called the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (lovingly referred to as the BIC), are just outstanding. Seriously – why isn’t all education interdisciplinary? These students are unimaginably engaged in learning and exploring and integrating, and so it is an educator’s dream to teach them. And I live that dream. But as I say goodbye this time around, I have the blogs to reflect on.
You see, this semester was my first time to take a plunge into the uncharted territory of course blogging. I had my students keep their own blogs to reflect on one of the courses I teach, Examined Life. This is the perfect starter course for blogging since the whole course is dedicated to examining five dimensions of your life (intellectual, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual) and asking yourself the really hard questions like, “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?” My hope was that it would provide an outlet for my students to express their own creative thoughts and reflections about the course.
In many ways, the blogging was not as successful as I had hoped. Only about half of the class actively blogged during the semester and due to some blogging platform difficulties, almost no one commented on each other’s blogs. But besides these minor flaws, it was hopeful, inspiring, and eye-opening. Some of my students took it and ran with it. I had one student who started to frequently post in photos he had taken and quotes he found or pieces he had written. Others reflected on their own thoughts and struggles and pictures from their daily lives on campus. Still others discussed the passionate, raw emotions they felt during their first semester at Baylor. It was…beautiful. Beautiful to see them each get their own voice and start to shout it out to the world.
Yesterday, as I said my farewell (at least until finals), I left them with a final thought. It’s actually strange to me the thought I left them with. You see, normally I tie up loose ends, emphasizing all that we learned and wrapping up any last minute details. But this time, I felt like I knew them better. Between their personal reflections and blogs, I owed it to them to leave them with a touch of my own self as I closed out the semester. And so I told them that it was a pleasure to teach them. That I was so proud of them, and that each of them had so many unique gifts and I hoped they knew that and never forgot it. And most of all, I encouraged them to never stop asking the hard questions. So many of them have had the total life changing experience of asking if they really wanted to pursue the career path they had chosen. And along this journey, many of them had to answer a resounding, “NO!” And thus, they were left wandering but hopefully wandering. They are now on a journey to find their true selves, a journey which I think in many ways this course brought them to. I told them to never stop asking themselves if they love what they do and if they MUST (as Rilke states) do it! Ultimately, I said, it is these questions that will lead them down the path they should take. And the blogs. Oh the blogs. I told them that it was a privilege to get to read their writings. I told them that they are so talented and they need to speak out loud for the world to hear! I reminded them that their blogs were a wonderful place to do this and although they may not know it, their audience would find them and the people who MUST hear what they are saying will eventually find them. As I challenged them to continue to speak to the world, I was surprised myself. I was surprised by my desire and need to see their voices go forward and reach the world and tell it what they think and reflect and create. The photos they took, the thoughts they thought. Oh how each one was precious and unique and beautiful!
So yeah, I think the course blogging worked. And now I’m hooked.