The 101 Phenomenon

Brian picA 101 course is code name for intro to something. Included is the notion of basics, mixed at the same time with the mysterious. Although intro courses are no longer always numbered 101, the idea of 101 remains the same despite dressier or more random sounding course numbers.

The idea is that a student think, “I would like to learn the ground level A –Z on that subject.” Of course, the student may be thinking, “I have to take that course” instead of “I get to take that course.” Here is a salute to colleges for maintaining the idea that a required core menu opens the curtains wider for students when looking out at life. US_101.svg

The 101 type course is temptingly overfamiliar to the instructor, while temptingly overwhelming to the student who has no notion or nomenclature for a new discipline. This is where an instructor’s familiarity with a subject remains grounded in its beauty at any level, whether basic or advanced. Fundamentals never lose their appeal, much as a carpenter stands back to admire a newly poured foundation, or a framed building now erect as an impressive edifice of two by four studs like a skeleton. Each stage of a process has its vitality and compelling energy.

expert.beginnerIt is the process as much as the product that is the joy. Watching each step, while pieces of knowledge are fit together, has its pleasure. When students see this in instructors, they observe not only the rote material but the humanizing of it and the art of it in the purveyor. That’s why cooking shows are so popular, for example.

Not the least part is the magic of an instructor who vicariously lives out the introductory material through one student or a group of students. Without the uniqueness of the student blended in with the information, the instructor’s love of the subject can only go so far. Humans live to share what they know, not just know it.

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