More Than Just Credits
So how does Prof. Danna Walker plan on making her students “recall that the dissidents who produced the publications and helped change society were critical thinkers and social activists”? And even more important, make them “perhaps emulate [the courage to challenge the dominant ideology of their time] in the larger world.” I had a conversation with Prof. Walker today that made me realize she has very interesting strategies that will help the students leave the class with something more than just credits.
First of all, she approaches her classes so that students will learn why journalists act the way they do instead of how they do things. This is one of the main reasons why critical thinking is developed throughout the trajectory of this course. They will look at journalists from a theoretical context, at a macro level, a human condition level. They will connect current events, such as the revolution on communications, with specific theories they have learned in class. This will let students apply their knowledge to contemporary affairs.
One of the most important strategies Prof. Walker uses is a collective blog, where students can be engaged with the material they study. They determined a specific topic for this blog, Renewing political debate, and through this they research different ramifications of the topic: the political, the historical, the social. This makes the class dynamic for the students and helps Prof. Walker avoid the static situation some professors tend to fall into. Not only will this open doors for discussion and ideas to flow within the students, but because of links and comments from people all around the world, it will also open new doors for intercultural discussions and connection with the outside community. Prof. Walker has noticed that many of the students show a lot of interest for this blog (Especially after realizing that if they googled the topic, the first link would be to their blog).
As Prof. Walker sees it, “students can get caught up in their own race to the goal line… to the job, therefore forgetting that they should take advantage of all the opportunities that the university is providing.” She asks of her students to “just think about what they are doing”, and to have a purpose in life instead of just doing what is ordered or expected of them.