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Blurred lines

mgz24's picture

As we have discussed over the course of the semester, the line between science and literature is now blurred.  Or at least is partially blurred.  As we spoke in our closing classes about our final reflections and what we had learned over the course of the semester I thought a lot about all of those lines separating the 2 disciplines.  I finally came to the conclusion that some of the lines are blurred, but there are still some very concrete borders.  I think in the broader arena, the purpose of this class isn't necessarily what I've learned specifically about evolution, but rather the importance of thinking in different ways.  Recognizing that the lines between science and literature are blurred is most important because it teaches and reminds us that there are different ways to approach problems and we are capable of using all of these different ways.  If we understand that borders can be crosses, we can more easily use a different kind of knowledge to solve complex problem that while on the surface may seem one-dimensional, but are in reality cross-disciplinary.  


Paul Grobstein's picture

From evolit to classrooms/education generally

Glad to hear that the evolutionary perspective does some useful blurring of the lines not only between science and humanities, but also suggests some new ways to think about lectures/discussions/classroom practice as well.  For notes/discussion/resources focused more on the latter, see 

Yes, the important general point is that "there are different ways to approach problems and we are capable of using all of these different ways.  If we understand that borders can be crosses, we can more easily use a different kind of knowledge to solve complex problem that while on the surface may seem one-dimensional, but are in reality cross-disciplinary.''  Hopefully  useful insight in lots of contexts.    

hannahgisele's picture

Eliminating the binary

The progression of these two posts is really interesting to me, and I totally follow the logic considered by both of the posters. From what I gather, they’re acknowledging that while the division between disciplines often seems finite, so do the ways in which teachers work within their classroom depending on subject matter, content, size of class, and participation. But while we usually juxtapose seminars with lectures and humanities with the sciences (respectively), there is another predominant teaching style that is used entirely outside of the classroom and transcendent from the bounds of topic matter: homeschooling. Most parents who utilize this option believe that learning is often done by reading and discussing rather than dictating and copying, but that education is most effective with the right degree of guidance and authority. These parents often assert that, historically speaking, children were educated by their families, and then would work (e.g. in the fields) with their parents, learning the trade and taking part actively in the family. They state that we are losing sight of the importance of family unity, that time spent in school prohibits the strengthening of emotional bonds between parent and child, and that such an experience cannot be replaced or recovered later.


In eliminating the binary between seminar and lecture within the education system by introducing the concept of home schooling, we can more clearly consider the other options available to us and to our peers and future generations. While homeschooling has many cons and connotations, I would like to acknowledge that a one-on-one learning experience that incorporates all disciplines while ensuring a balance between lecture, reading, and discussion has some valid pros.






AnnaP's picture

Blurring the lines between teaching styles

Many people, myself included, have spoken up about how this class uniquely blurred the lines between the disciplines for them; I think this in and of itself attests to the fact that, at Haverford at least, lines between the disciplines are still drawn fairly sharply between classes and divisions (natural science, social science, humanities).

This also made me think about teaching styles, and made me reflect back to my first webpaper of the semester about teaching evolutionarily. I think that in the sciences, a top-down teaching approach is still very often used, with one person lecturing at the head of the class while students take notes; presumably, this is because of the perception that the students are memorizing 'facts' and there is not necessarily a lot to discuss. In humanities classes, a more collective and shared approach is often used, in which the professor does not lecture but instead engages in discussion with the group (presumably because it is more about individual interpretation). I wonder if the lines between these teaching methods should also be blurred, because I often hear students in science classes complain that the classes are boring and allow for no creativity, while at the same time I hear students in humanities classes sometimes saying that they wish they had more guidance, and that sometimes they think the discussion is too freeform.

I think that EvoLit has not only blurred the lines between science and literature, but has also blurred the lines between different teaching styles by switching back and forth between lectures and discussion, by using the Internet as a resource for online discussion, and by encouraging students to do in-class performances. I think that we are not yet aware of how much our college experiences could change if teaching styles continued to actively evolve to meet the changing needs of students.

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