February 16, 2003
Journal #2: College
Writing about College of DuPage isn’t something that can be done in just two pages. Just what I have done so far, if I wrote about it, would be a short novel in length. So it is not an easy job to determine which parts make it into the next few paragraphs. This is going to just be the tip of the iceberg; just one thread of the spider’s web. College, I have found, is like a Rubik’s Cube -- many-sided, complex and multifaceted. One of the things I have most liked is the quality of the instructors. They’re not just a bunch of monotonous robots with no personality like some people are. These are people who are actually interested in what they do and they do it well. An ordinary person of average intelligence can tell you, in a situation, what happened. A person of above-average can tell you how it happened. And a person of extraordinary intellect can analyze and understand why it happened. Suffice it to say there are a number of people at the college who fit into the third category. The difference between college and high school is that what you simply learned in high school, you live in college. Experience is a better teacher than mere words, and the instructors here realize it.
One of the best, and most unique, parts about the college is the Field and Experimental Learning department, in which the courses are taken to the next level in terms of hands-on experiences. The teachers set the stage for the experience, whether it is taking a trip to visit the castles and gardens of England or going on an African safari. I don’t know if I see myself on one of the safaris, or going rock-climbing in the Andes, but there are other classes available anyway. The teachers realize that people want to go out and see the world, not just hear about it, and so they serve not as the focal point of the class but rather as the vessel through which the factual information is communicated.
Another difference between college and high school is the teachers’ expectations of the students. Granted, some of them are unrealistic and set ludicrous ideals and countless inane rules, but most are not like that. While the high school format basically consisted of “take notes word-for-word, give textbook answers to textbook questions, then take Scantron tests,” the college educators have moved beyond that. What these people expect is that their students will understand and remember concepts, not words. While most high-school teachers rarely manage to think outside the box (“radical” ideas such as taking unimpressed students on unexciting field trips notwithstanding), most college-level professors prefer to just take an exacto knife and cut the box right open. Projects are actually interesting; there will be no popsicle-stick picture frames in these art classes! Thankfully, college instructors actually give the students a little credit, giving them some independence and also not underestimating their students’ intelligence.
Some students are not so motivated, however. There are always a few students, exerting upwards of two tons of pressure on the doors, having failed to bother to look up and read the word PULL printed in giant block letters. But let them decide for themselves; if their mind’s natural state is “dormant,” if they only get lost in thought because it’s unfamiliar territory, then let them figure out what they’re doing here for themselves. However, I for one would rather put a little effort into it.
Lewis Carroll, who created the dream world of Wonderland, was a mathematician. His story is an ingenious, subtle hint at one of his realizations, that a world without logic would descend into chaos. If a person does not think logically, he too will become lost.