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Op-ed: the problem with the new Augustana calendar

Op-ed: the problem with the new Augustana calendar

The overlooked aspects of the new schedule

Since the new Augustana calendar commenced, all I’ve been hearing is negativity. Whether it be on social media or in conversation with fellow students, a lot of people seem to be saying the three-week is just “too intense” or “too much work” or “unfair”.

Augustana has always had a focus on the teaching experience, and the new calendar is something that builds on this strength. The new calendar is innovative, and I’m thankful to be at a place that will experiment with new pedagogical practices.

When the university was developing the schedule, “greater flexibility” and “development of new experiential, travel and learning opportunities” were the official aims of the change.

Karsten Mundel, associate dean academic, said that “the new schedule allows Augustana to play to its strengths within international opportunities, experiential learning, local contexts such as CSL learning, field studies, undergraduate research and rural engagement.”

The university has not, as some students would suggest, thrown us all into a new calendar without doing a significant amount of research or making a detailed plan.

According to 2011 Globe and Mail article  ‘Block plan’ Education Finds New Appeal Among Universities, “students are more engaged when they can focus on a single class at a time, and the flexibility within the timetable to include field work enriches the educational experience.”

The article quotes George Iwama—presently the chancellor at Quest University—saying that block planning required “twisting a few arms at first.” However, he finished by saying that “everybody came out of it saying, ‘this is a much better way to teach’.”

Only focusing on one class does take some adjustments. Instead of spending a week learning about syllabi and leaving class early, the work begins immediately. The three-week structure is fast-paced, intensive, and allows you to focus your energy on one topic. It forces you to immediately engage with your learning because you dive right into the content, wasting little to no time.

With the new calendar, you have time to reflect on the curriculum, focus on the topic, and immerse yourself in the learning experience. It’s different, challenging, and it’s the best way to truly learn.

When you look beyond trivialities, it’s also important to recognize that we’re all in this together. The Augustana community is experiencing this change all at once—of course, it’s going to take time to work out the kinks.

While the new calendar is a challenge, it’s important to remember that university isn’t meant to be easy. University is a time to grow as a person, learn, develop your passions, and discover part of your future. The new Augustana calendar is an opportunity to take the challenge of university and experience something new and refreshing.

As a person who is typically rather cynical, I’ve had my issues trying to navigate the start of the semester with all the changes that are occurring. However, we should try to embrace this change and learn from it. Philosopher Wayne Dyers says that “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”


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