The Summer Institute is about halfway through and I’m tired and happy
as I think about the experience here in Truro. Whether intentional or not, when a group of people live in the same building, eat and study together, socialization will take place. Shared values will emerge, and if the hiring procedure works as it should, they should be coherent with the values of the institution.
One can’t underestimate the importance of staying in the residence in the whole process. A great deal of learning and sharing takes place outside of the classroom, but it is almost always connected in some way to the events of the day. While the long days filled with stimulating discussion, group work, writing and eating should result in early nights filled with peaceful slumber, for many it is an energizing experience. We work until the time that we’d usually go to bed and then socialize.
A group of teachers is the most difficult group to teach. It would be similar to the task of a stand-up comedian who must face a group of stand-up comedians who sit and say, “O.k., make me laugh.” It’s a tough crowd and requires great courage to face people who can second-guess both the ideas and the way that they are presented. For these reasons it also can be difficult to learn as a teacher. I find that I must often take a breath and remember that I am here to learn and resist the temptation to teach.
The most positive part of the experience is the sense of collegiality that I feel. We are a community of learners and a community of teachers. With shared values and goals we can work together and challenge each other. We often complain about the workload, but we’re all putting much more effort in than is needed. It is a positive feedback loop with everyone wanting to be challenged and to grow. This is our chance to try out new things and to grow and we’re loving it.