On Thursday I had the opportunity to attend a panel on the FSEM (First-Year Seminar) led by Keith Mellinger with Steve Greenlaw singing backup, or rather, also in attendance. Me and the 4 other people who showed up were asked about our opinions on our experience in the FSEM. As Keith pointed out it would be helpful to get the opinion of the actual students that took the course instead of just guessing how we felt about it, which I guess is always a good philosophy. I also hadn’t had the opportunity to hear other peoples opinions of their FSEM experience outside of the people who took the Globalization FSEM so it was nice to get an idea of how things varied from class to class.
While writing this post, I had an a-ha! sort of moment. During the panel conversation I brought up the fact that some people in our class felt that the class lacked structure and I probably had some random explanation with a few “ums” and “yeahs” for good measure. While I was writing this post I had a moment where I realized the FSEM was the first time I had a class where the teacher did not have all the answers was not the keeper of all the information, doling it out for us to memorize just to have us later give it back in a well thought out persuasive essay. Once we had collectively come to an agreement about the definition of globalization and had an understanding of the so called “basics” we went out and actually researched topics that interested us. The professor didn’t have to know a thing about it, but if we were willing to put in the time and effort we could certainly do whatever we wanted (whether I accomplished that is another story). Of course it helped to have that push from the professor when guidance was needed and to have him send a link to an article he had found that looked like it could help with the research. I understood this abstractly before, but I just never could find the right words to put down what I meant and I think I’ve come pretty close to how I feel. All of the above is a lot of what makes the FSEM a unique experience for freshmen, most likely they have never had a class like it, I certainly didn’t.
Ok, enough dorky ranting on the greatness that is the FSEM experience. It is still weird to think that my opinion matters much in any of this. No one ever mentioned when I applied to college that I may be helping shape the future of the college’s curriculum, neat stuff.