Decompress

I have finally looked it up, and, like I thought, the one class I am taking this semester is, yet again, a freshman level course (the quantity of freshman level courses I have taken is staggering, considering that I was a freshman… 13 years ago). This is made slightly more bearable with two tidbits of knowledge: one, it is the last content area class I have to take other than the capstone (which isn’t offered until next summer), and two, as per my last discussion with my advisor, I’ll actually be getting a second major (aka a second Bachelor’s degree, this time with a major in Social Studies or History – I don’t remember which).

While freshman level courses mean, generally speaking, easy homework and not as much studying, they also mean having to sit through classes with … freshman, or people who are at the freshman level, which can be a bit infuriating for someone who graduated from college nearly ten years ago. I’m starting to get good at it, mind you, but occasionally I like taking courses that are more at my academic level. Next semester….

Saturday was the first class of the semester. Busing to campus could not be easier from our new house, and for that I am very thankful. My class is in Native American studies, which I have a little experience in (having lived on a reservation for a summer back in… 2002). Naturally, the teacher is Native American herself, and true to my other experiences with Native Americans who have lived primarily on a reservation (or grew up on a reservation and maintain strong ties), there is very little linear thinking.  After class had been going on for a while (and my brain started shorting out), I remembered my time in Arizona and how different the world view is. (Again, let me stress that this is all in my experience, and not meant to be a stereotype of Native Americans.) That was a rough summer, but as time went on, we adapted to our surroundings (we being my staff and me, four white 20-somethings from Minnesota). Time is relative. Storytelling is how knowledge is passed from person to person.

That said, by the time class was over, part of my brain was screaming for… concrete, linear thought. Don’t get me wrong – I think it will be a good class (especially once we get past the basics that I am already familiar with), and I think that it is completely appropriate for the style of the class to reflect the culture(s) which we are studying (group work and group projects are key, and my guess is that we won’t follow the syllabus that closely). The difficulty for me will be to adapt myself to the learning experience, because I learn best from the traditional classroom structure (lectures, note-taking, boring blah blah blah). I realize that many students do not learn well from the traditional structure (because there are many different styles of learning, many that are culturally influenced, and our school system was, and remains, designed for white middle and upper class persons), especially many students in inner city schools*. So in this class, I’ll essentially be on the other side.

I experienced a little bit of this last summer in one of my education courses. One of the teachers liked to use kinesthetic learning (learning via physical activity or movement), which is very outside of my comfort zone. It was a unique experience in which I learned more about myself and the experience than about what we were supposed to be learning. But it also helped me grow as a person, and that’s a good thing.

At any rate, what I set out to say was that by the time class was over, I needed to decompress and adjust back to “normal.”  Fortunately, there was a half hour wait for the bus, the weather was lovely, and I had my latest embroidery project with me on which to work, as well as good music on my iPod.

The rest of the weekend was good as well, but this post has gotten quite long already, so I’ll have to save that for another time. Tonight I’m going to volunteer training at the library. I assume they’ll be telling me not to touch kids in appropriate, to talk in a quiet voice, and remind me that everyone who walks through the door is to be respected and valued. (What can I say, I’ve been to a lot of trainings in my day.) I also need to quick mow the last part of the yard that I didn’t get to Sunday because it was wet. Tight schedule… someone else will have to cook dinner.

*The are many reasons that non-white students typically under-perform in the public school system. Poverty has a lot to do with it. Learning styles does too, which is something the multicultural education philosophy seeks to address, in my understanding. Don’t assume everybody learns the same way, and recognize that all methods of learning have value.