Teaching to Promote Intellectual and Personal Maturity: Incorporating Students' Worldviews and Identities into the Learning Process

By Marcia B. Baxter Magolda | Go to book overview

A “connected education” would cultivate connections
among students, between students and teachers, and
between students and their work. Stories of ways of
knowing show how pedagogy can create contexts for
these connections.


3
Toward a More Connected Vision
of Higher Education

Blythe McVicker Clinchy

A few years ago, I visited a class at my college in which the teacher, a philosopher, was trying to guide a group of first-year students through a discussion of the arguments made in Darwin’s time for and against the universe having been created by God. When the discussion showed signs of deteriorating into an exchange of personal beliefs, the teacher admonished the students: “Remember, we’re not talking about beliefs here. We’re talking about arguments for beliefs.” I thought to myself, what a wonderful thing for these first-year students to hear. What an important distinction that is—between the reasonableness of an argument and the belief the argument is supporting. I felt proud to be a member of an institution that understood and exemplified the value of detachment, the capacity to stand aside from one’s beliefs and look at them objectively.

I continue to honor the capacity for detachment, and I still try to cultivate it in my students. But I have learned that for many women students, even some of the most successful ones, detachment can lead to indifference, even alienation. Rightly or wrongly, they believe that the system demands that they remove themselves from their work. Simone, for instance, says that she can write “good papers,” papers teachers like, and “someday,” she hopes, she might be able to write papers that she likes, but at the moment, she doesn’t like them: “I do it, and I get my grade,” she says, “but it hasn’t proved anything to me. The problem is that I don’t feel terribly strongly about one point of view, but that point of view seems to make more sense. It’s easier to write the paper, supporting that point of view than the other one, because there’s more to support it. And it’s not one of my deep-founded beliefs, but it writes the paper.” Simone has learned to distinguish between beliefs and

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