September 11, 2015
Students at Oberlin College have a diverse array of interests and passions, resulting in an intersectionality often mentioned as a selling point on admissions tours. One common anecdote we share with prospective students is how chemistry students participate in guided research about the erosion of organ pipes. It is not difficult to find similarly collaborative efforts across the disciplines studied at Oberlin, whether it’s chemists working with organists, artists working with historians or dancers workings with Africana Studies scholars.
Many students come to Oberlin because they can see that their interests will be nurtured in this environment. However, during my brief time at Oberlin, I have identified a difficulty that accompanies the exploration of new interests. In the classroom setting, there are times I refrain from contributing because I am lacking the confidence to question. I can feel my curiosity being suppressed. So why do I feel this way? I was often that kid in high school who would be chided by his fellow students for asking a question in math class whose answer seemed obvious. But I was relentless, and day after day I would ask my questions. So what changed when I got to Oberlin?
There seems to be a common factor linking all Obies: We want to change something. However, every so often we disagree on how to make that change. These disagreements, when brought up in the classroom, often stifle discussions rather than add diversity to our learning. Little difference in perspective is offered, and the chance to learn for most, if not all, students in the classroom is severely limited.
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