Offering vocational discernment activities simultaneously with knowledge generation activities may provide an integrative and applicative means by which to engage students.
A series of posts about a collaborative project at the University of Dayton to develop courses, programs, and opportunities for undergraduate vocational discernment in the health professions, including a first-year course, “Discover Health and Medicine.”
At some point in the past couple of years, I think all of us in higher education have asked ourselves why our students seem to be so disengaged. More students seem to lack the ability to pay attention for an entire class period. They miss deadlines or do not seem to care about their academic success or progress. Worse yet, some students just disappear altogether with no explanation and refuse to respond when we reach out to offer assistance.
George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch was published nearly 150 years ago, in 8 installments from December 1871 to December 1872. Victorian readers would have had plenty of time to speculate on the characters’ decisions and lives as they awaited the next chapters to be published. Waiting, you see, was part of serialized reading.
Taking a year to read a novel is an elusive experience for contemporary life centered on binge watching serial television or listening to episodic podcasts. Immersion has its place, certainly, in a world that is fragmented and demanding, but reading over a period of time affords insight and transformation that compressed immersion does not.
“What is the quality of your waiting?” I once heard a spiritual leader ask. Academic calendars don’t encourage waiting but our vocational discernment clocks, which should be set for a longer, more deliberate reflection, can. The quality of our waiting can allow us to respond with purpose.