October 15, 2014
The first time I taught CIE 200, I arrived at class one day to find a homemade cake on a table in the center of the classroom. The cake said (in icing) something like “CIE Family.” No one would confess to making and bringing the cake. It became clear, though, that most if not all of the class had been in on the event, and a spontaneous discussion arose about how our class felt like a family (while we ate the cake, of course!). Students identified that we trusted and respected each other, but also were willing to disagree and challenge each other on various points, even when discussing sensitive topics. They noted how this sense of family made class more enjoyable, but more importantly, it made class more interesting and thought-provoking. This was a landmark moment for me, and that group of students taught me something about teaching and learning. When we learn in communities, surrounded by trust and respect but also confronted with honest disagreement, we learn more effectively. Our relationships with each other can help us engage intellectually in deeper and more profound ways.