Thursday, September 17, 2009

A story - remembering my first experiences in education

i was remembering today (and someone poked at me for this) just how big a leap it was to move from engineering to education. i was a master's student in materials science and started taking classes over in our college of education. i was completely alone in those classes - the "odd one out". i remember the first day of class where the professor put us in a circle (there were maybe only 10 of us) and then asked us to say something about our selves. yikes. my whole university education was sitting in the back, never asking a question, never answering a question - my biggest engagement was deciding what color of pen i would use to take notes with (i took beautiful rainbow-colored notes). now they wanted me to speak out and say something about me! i remember i couldn't even listen to what others were saying because i was so anxious about what i might say. and then it was my turn - i babbled something - i said that i was in engineering (got some odd looks from people) - and quickly turned to the next person. within 5 minutes i realized this was a completely different place and it was a bit scary. and then there were the readings (pages and pages and pages of them) - what on earth were these people saying? and i was supposed to jump into the conversation (after years of never saying a word in class)? they must be joking!

it took me a while to find my stride, to feel comfortable jumping into discussion, to "fit" - and i had many people to thank for helping me in my transition. i think one of the biggest lessons was getting comfortable with not knowing something - and giving myself the time to "catch up" with my peers in class. i think another big lesson was realizing that i would get there in my own way and in my own time - that bits would unfold and make sense, and then some more bits, and then some more.

so, i remember...and i don't really want to forget because it was an important turning point for me. i also know that many of the students in this class are having their own transition experiences - and that it is probably not the same for everyone. i don't have any answers...but i appreciate the ways everyone is engaging in class and being a bit "fearless" :)


pree2cool said...

I entirely agree with Robin here. There are many times when I really do feel: "my gosh! There's -so- much reading...I'm not exactly sure where I'm heading, but I'm heading somewhere...and how do I even begin to assimilate all this information that's being thrown at me?" I've been going through this a lot this past week especially, as I try and play catch up with academics and work and life - doing one thing, just causes a backlog elsewhere.

On the flip side, I love it. I love the discussions, I love the opinions people have, I love that here and there when something interesting comes to my mind, I get to speak out right then and there. All I have to do is to keep the thought intact until it's my turn.

Coming from an Indian education system, where discussion is as good as nil, I was thrown into the US undergrad system. There was certainly more discussion than Indian classrooms, but still less. And then I took this lovely English class - which truly brought together about 12 of us, sitting in a semicircle with the prof in the center guiding our discussions. The first two-three classes were hard - reading, being uptospeed on the readings along with 4 other engineering classes. But then, you slowly get the hang of things: how to just glance through some pages and get an idea, where to really in-depth etc. It was a truly fascinating experience, and one that I really enjoyed. My constant personal interactions with the professor truly helped improve my written english (which was extremely inferior before that class). That was one transition that I don't think I will ever forget. And since then, being involved in groups outside of academics, discussing opinions, scheduling meetings - each has molded a different side of the engineering me.