We often come into University searching for answers:
- Who am I going to become over the next four years?
- Where is the cheapest restaurant?
- What am I going to do with my life?
- Where do they serve free coffee?
- What kind of programs can I do?
- Where are the best wifi spots near campus?
- Will I succeed at school?
- Will I be able to build long-term relationships?
- Can I manage all the pressure and stress?
- Why is it SO cold in Toronto?
jasmine at the University and College wind tunnel.
Looking back over the last four years, I’ve been able to answer many questions, but those answers have only led to more questions.
Learning in and out of the classroom brings us face to face with many different intersections of questions; we have to ask ourselves,
what do the professors want?
what do we want?
what role do our peers play in learning?
At a most practical level, figuring out the answers to those questions and using them to guide our decision-making processes helps improve our performance within the university setting.
I know that with each year, I was able to better discern each question’s weight and use the answers to make adjustments to the way I studied, or did assignments for my courses.
But with each year, thinking intentionally about these questions also allowed me to develop a stronger consciousness about why I had to ask these questions, whether or not these questions reflected an approach I wanted to keep, or an attitude I thought valuable.
Eventually, my questions began to be about the questions themselves also.
What motivation lies behind this question?
Does this question work off an assumption?
What are some blind spots I have?
The most important answer I’ve arrived at is that my learning is much better channeled into asking good questions, than looking for the right answers. Adopting this approach is the most helpful; it frees us from the fear of failing to find the correct answer, and hones our senses to interpret the environment around us in critical ways.
If we know that the goal of learning is not the answers, but the questions, then we become bolder in how we ask, and move from “Why” to “Why not?”
This trajectory of thinking has recently led me to visit a session series held at Victoria College as part of their Ideas for the World program, called “Culture and Conflict in the Media” which explores media representation of conflict and how we can critically engage with the information that is being fed to us almost instantaneously all the time.
Open to all Victoria College students, it’s a type of learning that is different from the large classroom experience, and with a heavy focus on student participation, free from the pressure of assignments and grading.