Fin.

This entire semester, I kept thinking how interesting it has been taking this class and “Engineering Ethics and the Public” (Ethics) simultaneously. I have been able to use what I have learned in one class to shape assignments in the other, even the required blog posts. I now have realized it makes perfect sense that they are both fulfill the course requirements for the “Preparing the Future Professoriate” certificate offered by the Graduate School.

“Contemporary Pedagogy” has expanded my understanding of some of the vital conversations that happen among futuristic academics and upper-level administrators, often providing concise terminology for some of the concepts discussed in Ethics. Ethics helped me to give a context for these ideas within my own field of study.

Parker J. Palmer’s text, A New Professional: The Aims of Education Revisited, illuminated that one last time before the semester came to a close. Parker walks readers through 5 “immodest” proposals to help transform the institutions that dominate professionals’ lives:

 

  1. We must help our students uncover, examine, and debunk the myth that institutions are external to and constrain us, as if they possessed powers that render us helpless – an assumption that is largely unconscious and wholly untrue.
  2. We must take our students’ emotions as seriously as we take their intellects.
  3. We must start taking seriously the “intelligence” in emotional intelligence.
  4. We must offer students the knowledge, skills, and sensibilities required to cultivate communities of discernment and support.
  5. We must help our students understand what is means to live and work with the question of an undivided life always before them.

I found these suggestions made by Parker to be spot-on–especially the understanding of how, as a society, we overvalue the emotions of “anxiety, anger, guilt, grief, and burnout” in our professional lives over emotional intelligence, even in our personal lives. My friends and I say it all the time: “Americans love to seem busy.”

 

Two more things jumped out from Parker’s text that I believe summarized what I’ve taken away from both courses.

Contemporary Pedagogy: “The lesson our students learn is to stay safe by keeping quiet…small wonder that they carry their passivity into the workplace. They have not learned, because we did not teach them…”

This highlights the one term that I feel I obligated to subscribe to if I am fortunate enough to be an instructor: critical pedagogy. The next generation of professionals NEED it. We NEED it.

Ethics: “How do I stay close to the passions and commitments that took me into this work–challenging myself, my colleagues, and my institution to keep faith with this profession’s deepest values?”

Believe it or not, although my field’s primary value is to protect public health, people have acted pretty unethically and I never want to be in the position to do the same.

 

Thank you for contributing to my blog this semester.

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14 thoughts on “Fin.

  1. Thank you for your honesty to speak up and admit the unethical act, occurring into your field. I found it interesting how you would combine these two courses into one cup. I’m not sure about the syllabus of the Ethics class but it’d be very interesting if you could elaborate more about the gray areas with the Contemporary Pedagogy.

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    1. You should consider taking the Ethics class. It’s offered in the CEE department and my advisor teaches it. It can be a bit messy, but I think that’s because it’s real life.

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  2. I appreciate you connecting the overall goals of the professoriate certificate. I have also been thinking about these and I really am growing to appreciate how it is structured. I think the main takeaways I’ve had from both of these courses is an imperative to iterate and check in. In ethics: Why am I doing what I’m doing? Do I agree with my actions and do these actions contradict my values? In pedagogy: Actually much of the same. Why am I making students engage in these activities? Do I honestly think they are worthwhile and meaningful?

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  3. I really love your idea that “Americans love to seem busy”. I think that is especially true in grad school, where students often feel pressured to work ridiculous hours constantly at the expense of their physical and mental well being. I am lucky that my advisor is a wonderfully understanding person, but I have been less lucky in the past. I agree that putting more emphasis on emotional intelligence, for both us and out students is very important.

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    1. It really gets to be exhausting. We have the tendency to want to compete for who is the busiest. My friend and I had a running joke in undergrad, from what her brother referred to as the “oppression wars.” You know, when you’re complaining to your friend about your workload, and they often manage to tell you how many more papers and assignments they have than you. It becomes impossible to make time for mental/emotional well-being, despite being told by the university administration to do so.

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  4. I really enjoyed reading your post. It is inspiring to hear how you have taken what you have learned throughout this and your ethics course to re-shape how you are teaching and interacting with your students. Bravo! I completely agree with your statement of “Americans love to seem busy” as I frequently find myself thinking the same thing. I often catch myself saying how I have too little time and then filling my free time with small or unnecessary tasks in order to stay “busy”. Prioritizing our emotional health is definitely something we could all do better in the future.

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  5. Thank you for giving us (the GEDI community) so much to think about this semester! I really appreciate your commitment to heeding Parker’s summons that we must attend to the “whole person” when we engage with students. It’s so easy to focus on the academic, the technical, and the intellectual at the expense of the emotional and spiritual sensibilities that give the human experience real meaning.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think Palmer’s points largely get at what we’ve been talking about since our very first class session– that students should be viewed holistically as people with their own experiences, priorities, and opinions rather than vessels to fill with knowledge.

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    1. Exactly, Medha. I think that also has to come with the understanding that all students are not young, kids in their late teen’s/early 20’s. Many students are all different ages from all walks of life. That consideration is very important.

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  7. I have been reflecting on the benefits I’ve gained (both consciously and unconsciously) from this course recently and had it all come to a head today when I was talking with a fellow GTA this afternoon! I have also learned a lot and, potentially more importantly, expanded my conceptions of teaching, learning and the classroom throughout this semester.

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