Through the Eyes of the Freshman

This time of year always reminds me of why I like to teach freshmen. A room full of college freshmen is full of apprehension and excitement, nervousness and potential. It is a room full of possibilities and new worlds. When I teach freshman I am always acutely aware of the differences in our perspectives (something that each passing year only heightens). There is an energy however, in the meeting of such different perspectives.

I like watching new worlds open up for my students. It is a privilege to be a part of their learning experience- to see my field through their eyes. I love the moments when I can see it “click” for them and the ways in which that shift changes how they think about so many other things in their lives.

I love that for freshmen everything is new. They truly embrace the unknown- from the ideas of long dead philosophers to the innovation of cutting edge science to the novelty of living on a hall with 30+ people. They embrace each new experience or piece of information as an opportunity.

I admire the way in which freshmen are not busy defending their egos (at least in the academic setting). They do not spend a lot of time trying to convince others of the depth of their knowledge in a particular field. They are, at times, painfully aware of how little they know- but it spurs them to learn and learn fast.

9/15 I think we would all be happier in our daily lives if we could emulate the freshman. What might be available to us as adults if we saw every meeting as an opportunity to learn? If each new idea we encountered had the possibility to open the world to us and not close it off? If we saw each new challenge not as a threat, but as an opportunity to grow? If we saw the world through the eyes of the hopeful freshman and not the jaded adult?

There are, of course, many things to be said for sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and adults in general. The depth of conversation, the broadening of experience and understanding, the wisdom of years – the things that come after freshman year, are delightful and meaningful. If all goes well, today’s freshmen will be tomorrow’s sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and adults. But if we are lucky, they will retain some of the excitement, hope and openness that mark their first year of school. If we are really lucky- some of it might rub off on us.

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