There’s the kind of assembly that goes along with putting together equipment, like the water table that we sent to our granddaughter for her third birthday. And then there’s the type of assembly that means gathering for a common purpose. When I spent the summer in Cambridge, it was for the designated aim of increasing knowledge. But, as Ralph Peterson explains in Life in a Crowded Place, “Community in itself is more important to learning than any method or technique.”
If that statement is true, then my summer fell short.Secondary school students were required to live in dorms and purchase a meal plan, so their summer experience conferred ready-made community with shared experiences of annoying roommates and institutional food.. However, community-building tools for graduate students were ad hoc. Adult summer school students arrived from all over the world to take classes, but we were left to our own devices for making connections. Of course, we were in classrooms together but the intense schedule meant a strict task focus, with few opportunities for socializing. Adult students didn’t live in a common location, having found places to live through various housing websites, including Craigslist or Airbnb, which meant many of us were distributed throughout the Boston metropolitan area. Opportunities to form community would have enhanced our collective learning experiences.
The school term has resumed, but I’m taking classes online this fall. With students living all over the nation and world, distance learning provides great for intellectual opportunities. The downside is not being able to gather for study sessions at local coffee shops. If I’m back on campus for classes next summer, I intend to collaborate to locate an adult learner gathering spot. Community is important for learning.
© Joan S Grey, 1 Sep 2016
IndexCardCure™: in search of intentional communities