Undergraduate education should not restrict itself to a rigid, academic program, where the principal source of learning comes from the classroom. Instead, a valuable undergraduate education requires the ingenuity to integrate informal ways to facilitate learning about the world around us. This is how the Teach-In made a big splash at the Lisle campus. But one outstanding question that remains is: What is the next step after the Teach In?
Today’s world is transforming faster than ever before, bringing new changes to society at every turn; and some may say that new developments in our society inspired the efforts to organize the Teach-In. But more substantial than these changes in our social structure and our society’s long-standing social inequality is the diverse body of students who attend Benedictine University. Indeed, this year’s Teach-In would not have been successful if college students representing unique backgrounds did not possess the passion, the leadership, and the dedication to facilitate events. Therefore, the direction after the Teach In is contingent on the collective will of the students who have been galvanized by this event.
Certainly, students must not wait until the next Teach-In to make their move. Yet, students need to think strategically about how to carry the legacy of the Teach-In on campus. For one, it seems that isolated, independently organized programming tends to be less successful at generating publicity and leaving a significant impact. On the other hand, large-scale collaborative efforts have been proven to be an effective means of drawing attentive crowds while consolidating the impact of programs. Large-scale events do not even necessitate designated speakers and heavy financial investment, as the most powerful conversations can come from organic, candid discourse. But the effectiveness of collaboration greatly depends on group cohesiveness and excellent communication, both of which require students to foster constructive relationships between one another as well as with The University’s departments.
Additionally, students do not need to outperform the Teach-In efforts to establish meaningful dialogues, stimulations, or events that require critical thinking and reflection; nor do they need to be concerned about not having their voice be heard. The University provides ample resources, personnel, and the support to provide a platform to any student who is willing and able. And if students are responsible for continuing efforts after the Teach-In, then they must also redefine their values. This means that students shouldn’t value a program only when they are offered extra credit or are required to participate. Instead, students should exercise more intrinsic discretion to decide what course of action they believe is best. After all, Benedictine University offers a supportive atmosphere that permits the cultivation of ideas produced by students.
It’s quite clear that students have the potential and the means to continue informal, educational efforts that can improve our community. And since there is no clearly defined step after the Teach-In, identifying the next move truly depends on whether students are willing to carry the torch that the Teach-In has left behind.
The author would like to disclose his role as a concurrent session organizer during the Teach In. If you would like to leave the author a message, you may reach him by email, Omair_Ali@ben.edu.