Education - Page 9 - Ask Margit, from page 1

- Page 9
Ask Margit, from page 1
and race and racism.

College students need to create similar opportunities for themselves wherever they are, maybe not in a formal setting, but by simply connecting with those around them. Social media is used all the time, but how many young people look up their professors on LinkedIn or search for information about them on Google?

Most educators have more knowledge and experience in areas other than what they teach than what is communicated in the classroom. Many have written books, worked in the industry about which they teach, are involved in organizations unconnected to their current positions. So, as a student, the question you can ask yourself is, “How do I get more out of my education? In what activities should I get involved? Which people are in my classes who could teach me about a world other than the one in which I grew up?”

Many classes have group projects as part of the requirement. When you have the opportunity, do you try to join a group of people you know or people you’ve not previously met? No one is saying this is easy. Even Hrabowski acknowledges this when he says, “How do we learn to include people different from ourselves in the activities of problemsolving and, then, support each other so we all gain better understanding?”

Recently, a friend was chastised about a post she purportedly made via Facebook. Rather than start an argument, she apologized for something she hadn’t done in an attempt to defuse the situation. Afterwards, she said, “I learned as a public school teacher that jumping on someone and being accusatory when they disagree only does harm. When you acknowledge that someone has a right to a different point of view, you can diffuse a situation that might otherwise be ugly and, perhaps, find a common ground. I cannot say that I always react this way, but in a one-on-one conversation with another person who has passionate feelings, it might be good to acknowledge that they have as much right to their beliefs as you do. Strong arguments, not strong words win battles.”

Admittedly, both sides have to be willing to have the discussion, to set aside prejudices and actually listen, to be open as to the difficulties inherent in an unfamiliar life. This involves trust, to knowing you won’t be chastised or rebuked for expressing a difference of opinion, something not easy to come by.

Safe spaces, safe places where we can ask questions we wouldn’t normally posit, are hard to find, but it should be the purpose, the raison d’ĂȘtre, of universities. Exchanging ideas, spurring intellectual energy and growing through those conversations can only make the leaders of tomorrow wiser. Look beyond the credit requirements for your major and expand your horizons. Dare to stay open to learning as much from those around you as you do in the classroom. It will benefit you the rest of your life. •