Op−Ed | Explorations and Perspectives: Keep a great tradition alive
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 06:03
While many schools “talk the talk” about being student centered, here at Tufts through the ExCollege’s Explorations and Perspectives programs we do, in fact, walk the walk.
For over 40 years, Tufts juniors and seniors have teamed up to teach seminars of their own design for a small group of entering students. This doesn’t happen at Harvard. It doesn’t happen at Yale. It certainly doesn’t happen at Williams, or Amherst, or Wesleyan. Why has this been going on for so long?
The first reason is that Tufts students, over the years, have shared both a sense of self−reliance and a sense of community. The seminar leaders in Explorations and Perspectives embrace the challenge of teaching, and they give back by mentoring the entering students.
The second reason is that it works. In the past, data collected by the Tufts Office of Institutional Planning have shown that the first−year students in Explorations and Perspectives have an easier time adjusting to college life and do better academically over their four years.
It’s a tradition all our own. And it’s one that renews itself every year, in March, right now.
With such varied topics as Harry Potter, climate change, sports and society and bio−ethics, to name a very few, Explorations can be about anything you can analyze.
But if movies are your passion, then Perspectives is where you can teach your own film course.
Interested? I want to tell you a secret. Yes, the first−year students gain a great deal from Explorations and Perspectives. But the juniors and seniors who create and lead the seminars gain even more.
They’ve tested themselves and discovered that they can handle an incredible amount of responsibility. In addition, they’ve honed their organizational and time−management skills, learned how to lead a group, and acquired invaluable insight into who they are.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what a few of last fall’s Explorations and Perspectives leaders have to say about their experience.
From Samantha Tye and Sofi Shield, the leaders of a Perspectives seminar on Films about Genocide:
It is hard to say what my favorite part of each week’s class was. Even as the semester went on, our freshmen never ceased to amaze us with their insight and perspective on the films we watched. They expressed wonderful commentary about portraying genocide through film and thoughtfully spoke about ethical dilemmas within the genre. I truly believe that I learned as much as the students did about genocide films. Sofi and I learned even more about being leaders, working with others and conducting a class.
From Madeline Hall, whose Exploration centered on John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath:
As the semester passed and the students consumed the book . . . I understood that they were as new to college as I was to instruction, and that our respective efforts had brought us together in this class. I knew the book, knew my own passions and abilities, knew the worth of the course; all it took was the introduction of the students, eager and incredibly bright, to turn this knowledge into true belief in myself.
So. Are you going to be a junior or senior next fall? Do you want to make a difference in the lives of entering students and your own life as well? Then it’s your turn to keep the tradition alive.
There’s still time. Check it out at excollege.tufts.edu/studentFirstyear.asp.
Samantha Tye is a senior majoring in psychology. She can be reached at Samantha.Tye@tufts.edu. Madeline Hall is a senior majoring in international relations. She can be reached at Madeline.Hall@tufts.edu. Howard Woolf is the Assistant Director of the ExCollege. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.