A3Writer: Learning Communities
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Learning Communities

            I hold degrees in history, political science, and English literature. I have strong interests in mythology and religion. As a hobby I have looked into astronomy, geology, and meteorology (these last have a lot to do with book research, but I still enjoy them). I have friends in the sciences and law, and I speak with them and enjoy hearing what they have to say about their disciplines.
            All of this preamble is not to talk about my education, but rather a fundamental truth I’ve always known, but is starting to gain ground in higher education. Disiplines are connected to one another.
            To learn about one thing is not to learn about one thing. Everything is connected. You cannot understand literature without considering history and the politics of the time when it was written, or even the economics around it. You cannot understand science unless you know how that science connects to other sciences, history, and society. All of human understanding is a giant tapestry with overlapping threads. One thread cannot be pulled free and studied in isolation. The weave is so tight that other threads invariably come with it.

            So there is a growing idea that classes should be linked together, formally, to create these learning communities. I’m not sure that it needs to be done in a formal, one-off type of way. I believe it’s the responsibility of all instructors to talk about how subjects crossover. When students begin to understand that the study of philosophy will impact their English and science classes, or how history impacts psychology and science, how mathematics was influenced by philosophy and geography, we will create students who will know how to excel in all areas instead of concentrating only on the short-term needs of their classes.