Feb 7, 2012
Comments Off on Fresh Start or Keep the Community?

Fresh Start or Keep the Community?

A new semester has started. Day one, in the books.  I get a chance to meet all my new students and say goodbye to a bunch of the old ones.

It’s a chance for a fresh start. But, it breaks up the community of learners we’ve created.

For one student, who I taught last semester, whose circumstances caused her drop out. A new semester means a chance for renewal. It is a chance for her to wipe the slate clean. She said to me, “I’m so glad that the new semester is here. I now don’t feel buried in all the stuff I haven’t done yet.”

For another, the new semester is jarring. It upsets the equilibrium he’s come to expect. He’s forced to break a routine that was working for him. He came to me and said, “Mr. Kemp, I don’t want to stop having our class. It made me excited to come to school every day.” I know he’ll get over it, but his sentiment made me think.

How can we organize classes / learning communities / opportunities for learning that speak to both student’s needs?

Is there inherent value in constantly having a student re-integrate to a new community? Or are we creating an environment that develops unneeded stress and anxiety?

If you picked up and moved houses every four months, what is the likelihood you’d invest in building a relationship with your neighbours? What’s the likelihood that you’d shovel their driveway or trim their hedges? By constantly having students dropped into new learning communities are we diminishing the need/will/want of building connections with those that are not our friends?

On the flip side, if you live in the same house, beside the same people for 10-15 years, do you get neighbourly complacent? Will students stay in the role that they’ve developed for themselves and never have to step outside their comfort zone?

As much as I love have a fresh start, I love learning in a built community where culture has been developed.

So, where is the middle ground? How can we develop a system that speaks to both sides of the equation?

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