What do we hope students would say if we asked them why we study different academic disciplines?
Asking students during the summer is a great exercise to get baseline data for what they think.
Questions to help us analyze their responses:

  • Are we teaching the disciplines in a way that inspires an appreciation of their purpose and structure?
  • Do we help students to understand how experts in the field view the world?
  • Can students articulate the beauty of each discipline — like detecting patterns in mathematics and standing in awe of the human experience in social studies?
  • Or do their responses reflect more of a “coverage” mentality of teaching? Or using gimmicks to get them to want to study it?

Here are some students reflecting on the purpose of visual art and music:

It is clear that these students appreciate art’s function of personal expression and that they enjoy music in their everyday lives.
Students reflecting on mathematics:

The most common response?
Money. Seems like we have some work to do in helping them to appreciate the beauty of math for math sake.
What do you want them to say about your discipline?
Let’s think about that and try to organize the ways we which teach to reflect those goals.