I recently graduated from Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school in upstate NY with biochemistry major and art minor.
When I look back to the courses I have taken and taught (some) in Hamilton: math and sciences (especially calculus, biology and chemistry), and art (figure drawing, oil painting, print making and photography) and in some other areas like writing (philosophy, comparative literature, english literature), I have to admit that influenced me to grow intellectually as well as encourage others for the same. To cut it short, here I will present you a summary of my learning and teaching experience and I hope you get the most out of it, the same way I did.
From very early on, my curious nature and desire to simplify even the most complex ideas attracted me to science, and that’s how I think is the best approach to learn and teach science and math. And, contrary to the misconception that many people have that science and math is complex, I believe that it is all in our mind and with the right guidance it can be easier than any other subject. Where else do you get as concrete facts and answers than in science? Think about it. It is all about events in our own body or in other living beings like ourselves. Aren’t we all curious to learn about ourselves, who and how we are as human beings? That’s all biology, phsycology or chemistry is about. Yes, I agree it can seem really nerve-racking at times to solve a puzzle but the rush of endorphin, “the happy hormone” when you finally figure out the solution is incredible. This is why I like science and when I would see my students going through all this, I find it even more rewarding: I tutored biology and chemistry to incoming freshmen in college for two consecutive summer and I was a TA for introductory biology for two semester. I would help the students prepare for exams, oral or written, explain concepts they were confused about or even help them prepare posters for presentations.
Now, it may or may not have hold your attention that I also like art. I have been drawing my whole life for fun but I took my first figure drawing in college simply to keep my sanity (you have to use both sides of your brain and balance out…sort of theory), but then by senior year, not only had I taken almost all kinds of art classes but I also end up helping my friends in their art projects too and I was teaching 5 year old Ian (my supervisor’s son) how to draw aeroplanes or lions. Likewise, I end up coordinating a project called Johnson Park Center (JPC) art project for kids in the nearly community where we would go once a week and do arts and craft with kids from 5 to 15 years old. Infact, I find art as important and useful as science because it helps to express your emotions- positive or negative, in a right way. Plus, its fun!
Last but not the least, writing summarizes my learning in college and beyond that. While analyzing works by philosophers like Socrates, Kant and Plato would leave me scratching my head forever, reading fictional stories national and international writers like Faulkner, Murakami or Rusdie would take me to a different world. While the task of summarizing and introducing a new idea after reading five books in only 500 words would seem daunting at first, the end result would always made me proud, because then I would have learnt how to communicate my thoughts in the most concise and clear way possible. Since you are still reading my response, it shows that my writing has been able to captivate you long enough to hear my voice! However, I must admit, I didn’t learn to write well by only writing and reading my own response or getting feedback from my professors. I learnt a lot by critiquing my friends’ responses and vice versa.
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