I am Vivian, a lead TA for the L&I course. I am responding to your tweets on my personal blog, because I wanted the space to address your concerns without the 140 character limit, and the ability to do so in a public space to show that you are heard.
I hear you on your frustrations with this course. When I was a student in this course last year, I felt similar frustrations. Even as a TA now, some of these questions still arise. For example, is it really possible to teach leadership and innovation in a classroom? Is there a standard that exists in which we can effectively and uniformly measure these outcomes? And lastly, does it matter?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. No matter how much preparation and research we put into designing this course, these questions will continue to resurface. And in all honesty, I hope these questions never subside because they only serve to push this course forward.
What I do know, is that both Professor De Pinho and Dean Delva are extremely receptive to student feedback and have incorporated many changes from last year to improve on this course. I know this because all the ideas that I’ve pitched to them have been adopted into the course this year. They’re not necessarily MY ideas, but rather an accumulation of the feedback from last year’s students.
Of course, change can never come fast enough and there are still kinks to work out.
I listened to the Ted Talk that you shared. It is a great talk, indeed, and I hope that you apply those key insights to this class. In particular, she asks, “How are you distilling this into understanding potential discontinuities, and then making a decision to do something right now so that you’re prepared and ready?” For me, that meant getting involved directly in the planning and design of this course so that we can make effective changes.
Certainly, this class will not be canceled anytime soon. You tweeted an article on “The Most Important Question You Ask Yourself Today.” And that question was— what pain do you want? For you, this class may be painful to sit through. But sometimes the most rewarding and happy experiences come through a lot of struggle. Could it be possible, that maybe… just maybe the ‘pain’ you endure through this class can produce excellent outcomes? I won’t promise that it will. But the choice is yours to find out.
Once a week, I get the chance to lead a 21-person section on leadership & innovation to first year masters of public health students.
In class today, I asked them to define creativity…
Based on these definitions, I asked, “raise your hand if you consider yourself a creative person.”
I got timid stares until one student bravely put her hand up. A couple more half-hands followed suit—you know the ones that are raised high enough to be noticed, but still low enough to jump ship in case you change your mind?
I expected this. If their experience in the biomedical/health community is anything like mine, then they were probably told at some point that they are not creative. So I offered them this definition instead…
Being creative means having the patience to sit with a problem and the tenacity to work within your constraints to come up with a solution. Creative ideas are not born out of thin air, they’re born out of relentless effort.
When scientists pore over thousands of genomic sequences to identify an aberration, and doctors examine the relationships between organ systems to diagnose a patient—that is creativity. When public health professionals map out the social, structural, and economic determinants of health—that is creativity.
So why are some of the most creative people I encounter so convinced that they aren’t creative?
I think it’s because society creates a false separation between the sciences and the arts. When I chose to study the sciences, a mental wall erected to keep the arts ‘where they belong’. Out of my mind.
The consequence is an idea-cide. The killing off of ideas before they even get a chance to thrive.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to create a classroom environment that saves these ideas. To nurse them back to health. I know I won’t be able to get them all, but if I can save even one… half… two… I believe there are endless possibilities of what can come out of these ideas. And given the talent in my classroom, the potential is ridiculous.
So with this new definition, I asked, “do you consider yourself a creative person?”
3/4s of the hands went up.
vent -> let go -> create
EDUCATION = EVOLUTION
conversations with Dr. Bob
Hackers disagree. They say there’s no perfect time to share our work—any stage can be the best. The earlier we share, the more chances we get to iterate. And when our product is finally presented, don’t stop there either. Open up your sources, let other people hack and build and hack and build and hack and build on top of what you created.