Several months ago GMC held community discussion dinner in which some faculty and administration met with students during dinner in the dining hall to get their opinion on the state of affairs. Someone had already blogged about it, so I figured I would choose another topic to blog about. However, the urge to write about my personal experience at the talk has haunted me. I feel it imperative to share, because as a prospective student it affects and involves you.
I sat at the table focused on increasing academic rigor. The students and I shared what our academic vision of Green Mountain College would be and what professor’s were already exemplifying that vision. We agreed; however, that Green Mountain has a ways to go and that there are a couple key reasons for this lag.
One of the biggest reasons that GMC is not where I would most want it to be, is the attitude of some GMC students towards their classes and education. The students at our community dinner table envision a college dining hall where students’ faces are glowing while they contemplate and share the things they have learned in their readings and classes, where conversation is geared toward growth and exploration, where peers challenge each other to consider other view points, and where students leave the dining hall feeling enriched. In all honestly, we have sadly determined this is rarely the case. Meals are a “break” from academics, as if academics were reserved for library hours and class. Let me disclaim, that the majority of GMC students are inquisitive and they care about their education-and you can see that in the classrooms and the hours they devote in the library and various projects.
However when a student feels tired, disengaged, and did not do their reading; it drags everyone else in the classroom down. I’m sure you have all experienced this in high school. Energy is contagious, and if students are emitting low and negligent energy-it’s going to affect everyone. We simply can’t afford that. In our conversations we talked about “grit” as being one of the most valuable traits of a college perspective. Grit means energy and a ceaseless and persevering hunger to grow and learn. There’s a quote by Jack Kerouac, in which he says, “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” That’s what I would like to see at GMC; students that are burn, burn, burning to learn. I want to see the passion in every students’ eyes about what they’re working towards and how it’s changing them. We have to own what we do, what we create, and what we strive to learn because it speaks to so much of who we are. This is not just an education on abstract thoughts; we’re learning about who we are and what we want to give to the world.
If you’re not ready to commit yourself to giving you’re all, maybe you’re not ready for college yet. That doesn’t mean you have to know what you want to learn or do, but it does mean you are engaged and committed to finding what your passion is.