When we first sat down together at the beginning of the semester, I felt as though I had just been let in on a great secret. Davidson and the DLRD department had taken this incredible opportunity–to adapt and test a learning methodology, which, elsewhere in the world is beginning to enhance, if not replace, the classroom structure in academic institutions–and threw it in our laps. It was exciting and invigorating to talk about making this idea a reality, but, still, it was so unlike anything happening on Davidson campus that it felt intangible and idealistic. During that first brainstorming session with the team, I thought, “this will never happen.”
Since then, we have transformed this great secret into a semester-long curriculum with a comprehensive and personal syllabus. The syllabus, I think, is the perfect example of how forward and new this course is. We wrote it. That fact alone sets this course apart from any other class offered at Davidson. More importantly, we wrote it for ourselves. I feel represented in this syllabus. Instead of a professor setting goals for me and deciding what I must accomplish to achieve “success”, I am setting those goals and defining that success. With this syllabus, I am actively invested in the course from the outset, in comparison to just meeting expectations. Another benefit of creating the syllabus is knowing that because I created this with Annie, Andrew and Summer, they are equally represented and invested in this course. That understanding, for me, establishes a foundation of trust and respect. The syllabus is also perpetually “under-revision”, which allows us the flexibility to explore and experiment. The nature of the syllabus, and this course in general, provides enough ambiguity to foster a risk-taking environment and creative process, and asserts enough structure to keep us on track and invested in our progress.