The Middlebury Campus

Profs Discuss “Slow Campuses”

By JORDAN HOWELL

On Friday Jan. 26, the Center for Teaching, Learning and Research hosted a talk entitled “Slow Teaching.” An array of professors gathered to discuss a book called “The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy” by Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber as well as to discuss the idea of the slow campus.

A slow campus describes a school environment where both students and teachers adopt a slower pace in their lifestyles. For students, this would involve a slower class pace and lower schedule load leading to a reduction in stress. This would allow them to have more time to contemplate various things and socialize. For professors, this would involve not consistently rushing from class to class as well as being able to have sufficient amounts of time to prepare to teach and do research.

In this talk, the professors discussed ways in which they could help to facilitate a slow environment for their students. One professor mentioned the importance of meditation and relaxation practices in class. These practices would allow both students and professors to destress through quiet thinking and contemplation. The slow campus could potentially help students who sense the conveyor-belt like nature of school. Some students find themselves going through the motions of class without really having a goal in mind. By taking the time to think, one could potentially lay out what they truly want to do as a career and figure out how the college experience will help with that goal. In setting goals, the importance of having a purpose can enhance work ethic and motivation. This led to a discussion of what students want out of a class. This professor mentioned how in some of his classes, he asks students what they expect out of the course in the first days of class and then meets with the students individually throughout the semester in order to clarify and note progress on the original expectation. If all professors did this, or if an entire school focused on this type of learning, more students may feel as though they are moving through school with a clear vision.

In actuality, it may be difficult to implement a slow type of learning. There could be push-back from some professors, administration and parents since it is hard to quantify the how slow learning would benefit the understanding and visions of students. For the slow campus to occur, there would likely have to be an entire cultural movement towards it. As was also discussed in the talk, slow could potentially be renamed “intentional” or “thoughtful” to better relay the idea. Right now, the slow campus definitely deserves to be discussed by everyone.

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