I talked about learning communities before. I think they can be good things, but they aren’t immediately easy by any means. They take active acts of imagination to conceive of how one field can crossover into so many others.
I took part in a workshop where the idea was to brainstorm a way to create a learning community between people present in the workshop. At my particular table, I was partnered with a woman who taught calculus. Now, I am not going to stereotype math professors, but the particular woman I was with didn’t have much in the way of imagination. She saw no way to connect calculus to English composition.
I came up with the idea of having students read and study the developers of calculus Leibnitz and Newton, possibly even delving into the particular reasons they developed calculus in the first place. I could present them with the practical considerations they dealt with and their time period, and then in the calculus class they could learn about how those problems were solved.
Back in my class students would write essays detailing the processes used to arrive at the solution and to support the formulae with logical deductions and proof. This, I thought, was doable, even exciting.
I looked to the woman for more ideas and asked for what teaching methods she uses and what types of problems they would be trying to solve. All she could do was talk about the various equations they would talk about, and that she wouldn’t grade any essays in her class.
There’s a fundamental mindset in the teaching of certain disciplines that must be addressed before true learning communities can be established.