All Kinds of Student Successes

At a meeting today, the Interim Provost, Dr. David Borosky, remarked that he was surprised so few faculty and staff members support student events.  Now to be clear, he was not pointing any fingers, simply giving an opinion based on his visits to a few athletic events and music/theater events.  His remarks are not a target at faculty and staff working with students to put on events, or those working with students participating in events.  Just as students expect faculty to show up in their classrooms and staff members to keep office hours, students invested in performing in multiple ways get so much joy at seeing us show up.  Showing up is one of the best ways of acknowledging student success!  Interestingly, someone in the meeting immediately said this should be a part of the Magis health initiative.  We are learning that if we put it in writing and follow up with one another, it is likely to have a very positive outcome.  When making his comments, David said not so loudly, but very clearly, “You do not have to do everything, but choose something.”  Make a commitment to see our students stretching the limits of their learning outside of the classroom. 

Richard J. Light, Professor of the Graduate School of Education and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, wrote the book, Making the Most of College, Students Speak Their Minds.  Light interviewed over 400 undergraduate students with the desire to understand the breadth and depth of the undergraduate student experience. Light posits, “Course choices, advising and decisions about residential living are not done in isolation.”  He realized that campus life for so many undergraduates is a part of a connected system. It is clear in Light’s work that much of what he learned from students was expected, but several “insights” were surprising.  I am including one paragraph, in particular, belonging to Dr. Light, which hints at what David shared at the meeting this morning.

“First, I assumed that most important and memorable academic learning goes on inside the classroom, while outside activities provide a useful but modest supplement.  The evidence shows that the opposite is true:  learning outside of classes, especially in residential settings and extracurricular activities such as the arts, is vital.  When we asked students to think of a specific, critical incident or moment that had changed them profoundly, four-fifths of them chose a situation or event outside of the classroom.”

This morning’s gentle challenge from David is to support the successes of our students; after all, it is our Jesuit heritage of educating mind, body, and spirit, inside and outside the classroom.