One of the advantages of being at University is the diverse range of courses we can explore. Doing multiple programs and/or having breadth requirements makes you realise that the lines between each field are much more blurred than we thought. Sure, having to fill breadth requirements and doing courses outside your program can seem intimidating. Some of you may even think it’s useless — if you’re not interested in doing anything with the field, why and how would it help? I invite you to challenge that thought. No matter how out of your comfort zone this course is, it can provide you with insights that help you in your other courses.
I’m an English major and last week in my Critical Approaches to Literature course we spoke about the extent to which we internalise our language. I had done a chapter on Freud in a Psychology(my minor) course the day before and I immediately thought of the ways in which externalising langauge has proven to be theraputic. Although it was just a passing thought, it lead to an interesting conversation with my Critical Approaches professor about the connections between the English Language, Freudian ideas and the subconscious. My point here is, courses and disciplines can have a large amount of overlap. You don’t have to know much about the overlap but with just a little interaction with your professor after class, you can discover a pool of information that reveals not only how the disciplines are connected, but changes your perspective on existing theories and ideas.
In my first year seminar on Performing the City, our professor said our class was probably the most diverse she had ever taught, in terms of culture and academic interests. There were people studying English, Math, Psychology, Economics and each person had points that would help the class grasp the material more holistically. If you’re a student who’s in English in a Math class, or a Math student in an essay writing class, don’t feel like your voice or point is not informative or valid enough to say out loud. In fact, it should give you more reason to ask a question or voice a thought. A lot of the times, students feel like they can’t say much about the material because they’re not equipped with the jargon the discipline uses. While it probably is necessary and useful to be equipped with it for tests, quizzes and exams, not knowing certain terms should not stop you from expressing a thought in general class discussion. It’s okay to describe an effect or term, this way the professor knows you’re tackling the material even though you may not have wrapped your head around all the technical terms yet. More importantly, you probably will know the term you were thinking of after the interaction! Don’t be afraid to talk about something you’re not completely sure of yourself, the important part is, you will walk out of that class more informed.
Lastly I think one of the greatest and most practical benefits of exploring how the different disciples intertwine, is that it helps you remember the material. The more connections you make in your head, the better your mind remembers them. By actively working towards combining your different courses into an insightful narrative, you’re combining great minds to help your mind remember, learn and grow. And I think that is one of the most treasured and useful opportunities that we as students have. If you have not thought about this already I hope you do, because I’m certain that the next time you sit in that class you thought didn’t have much meaning, you’ll surprise yourself.