In the second half of her post to the “Teaching Points” series, Contributing Editor Michelle McClellan reflects on how interdisciplinarity works–and doesn’t– in the undergraduate classroom.
“So how many of these drugs have you done?” It was the first day of class, and the question came from a student who was clearly much hipper than I had been as an undergrad, or am now for that matter.
“Excuse me?” I was flustered but managed to rejoin, “Why do you want to know?”
“Because,” he said with a faint smirk, “I don’t see how can you teach about them if you haven’t experienced them.”
“Well, I didn’t live through the Civil War either, but I teach about that too,” I replied.
Thinking back on that exchange from several years ago, I now realize that for me, teaching about addiction intensifies many aspects of pedagogy. The classroom can be crowded: not just with ideas, but with emotions and backgrounds that are often invisible and therefore all the more powerful. Many of these issues have been thoughtfully explored by Guest Blogger Eoin Cannon. As the student’s challenge to me was meant to show, we instructors also bring a point of view into the classroom, whether we articulate it or not. This is a useful reminder for me in all my classes.