The process of self-refection is often contradictory as it is a natural thought process but is also a difficult concept in practice. While I may always be evaluating my own work, I tend to overthink when either writing a reflection or simply editing what I have done, and this can lead to a lethargic output of concrete work. My thoughts are often abundant, yet disorganized, which makes it hard for me to pin down one thought track before another one leads in its place. This can often lead to a different direction I originally intended or even the wrong direction altogether. I realize that this self-awareness is a reflection itself and I have used it in writing my reflections for this class. In order to make sense of what I wanted to write, I have reviewed my texts and notes and made further notes of what I believe I have learned.
Throughout the eight weeks of class, my perception of interdisciplinary studies has grown, altered and changed. I’ve learned and come to understand the subject and the more I’ve come to recognize it, the more I’ve identified with its core values and principles. Growing up, you’re taught that specialization is the key to success and that choosing a discipline will lead you there. I’ve learned through this class that traditionally this may be true, and while specialization will always be needed, it tends to limit the individual to seeing the small part of a much larger picture (Repko 78). I’ve started to think about all the professions you would identify as specialist and realized how multi-faceted they actually are. Doctors who specialize in medicine must also have to have a working knowledge of psychology, sociology, law, etc. to effectively help their patients. I also agreed with the readings in the text that specialization tends to be outdated as it was created in very different time, and often historic biases are put into place i.e. race, religion, gender and economic standing.
I’ve found the readings in class to be interesting for the most part, and often I find myself either relating with them or empathizing with their humanizing traits. History is a subject I’ve always enjoyed, and reading about the beginning of traditional disciplines and the rise interdisciplinary studies is fascinating. I learned about the start of knowledge-based disciplines in the west during the enlightenment and the intellectual movement in the 1700’s that resulted in a large transformation of universities throughout Europe. In the 1960’s a broader outlook on education was needed and more interdisciplinary programs became available as civil rights movements refused to be molded by the traditional principles that the disciplines were founded on (Repko 65, 71). The articles on slums were an education on bias itself as it challenged most of my notions of slum and gave the facts of what those communities actually represented and the diverse group of people who populate them. Our group was so inspired by this knowledge that we decided to do our project on slum tourism in Brazil and educate ourselves on the facts opposed the prejudiced narrative it usually receives. We learned about its history and the ethics that surrounds it, as well as the limited political policy that surrounds them.
Building my e-portfolio feels like a personal sort of puzzle. Collecting the information, artifacts and reflections needed to make the right fit to showcase my academic work is a bit daunting. Choosing what I think my best work is, or artifacts that reflect the person I am while remaining professional is a challenge. I realize that as I write this, in the end, it comes down to exactly what I am doing here: self-reflection. Throughout the next five years of my academic career I will be carefully examining pieces of my work to show the results of this process and from there I will spend the following years reflecting on the previous knowledge of myself to show my growth and merit. I’ve started these reflections with a grudging acceptance, but quickly I’ve learned the importance of highlighting self-awareness while I learn, write and evovle as a student.
In this first month of the Liberal Studies program, I have learned that interdisciplinary studies are an intricate and comprehensive way of thinking and learning. I came into this program thinking that it would be the perfect degree for a future teacher as it would allow me to explore different disciplines and knowledge needed for the profession. What I didn’t know was that it would alter the way I look at different topics and issues or how it would affect the way I approach them.
I try my best to be an open-minded person, but sometimes I can find it difficult to view another’s perspective I don’t particularly agree with. To be frank, I am stubborn. I could dress it up and call it persistence or diligence but in the end, it comes down my innate response to argue, so much so, that I often find myself playing devil’s advocate. It’s not that I can’t accept other people’s viewpoints, I always try to be receptive of other people’s beliefs, ideas, and backgrounds. It is through this class that I learned that therein lies a challenge for me. I can sometimes be quick to reject ideas and concepts that don’t match up with my own principles. I learned that I needed to step back from my beliefs so that I can learn to respect another’s, even if I still don’t fully agree with it. Through the readings, I’ve grasped how important it is to see the other person’s perspective so that I may try to see things from every angle. I’ve realized that I have started with this preconception of what I thought was just, when all it was is bias.
The classroom is full of people with their own ideas, philosophies, and predispositions and it can be difficult to navigate conversation into a debate instead of an argument. In my group alone, we all have varying degrees of beliefs and thought, often contradictory with each other. While at moments it seems like we can’t align our points, in the next moment we seem to redeem ourselves by engaging in conversation that leads to productive deliberation. We may never fully agree with each other’s views but together we have started to open our minds to a different thinking. An idea that at first may seem illogical or wrong, can alter the way we think when we look at it from where the speaker is sitting.
Events during Truth and Reconciliation week, and David Kirk’s Q&A, First Nations 101, was especially eyes opening for me. I have studied indigenous history and knowledge on my own and have empathized with First Nations issues but it wasn’t until his talk that I understood the difference between looking at it through privileged eyes and actually understanding the depth and complexity of their issues. I felt angry at the injustice of the way the system treats and represents them, and the sadness for their loss of culture. What I didn’t take fully into account were the ramifications of hundreds of years’ worth of colonization and the ricocheted effects it has on generations of families. I said in class at one point that representation matters and it was something I believed in before the talk but it was after that showed me just how crucial it is.
This is only one month into the first year of my degree and my perception about knowledge has changed greatly. I’ve discovered more about the way I think and how it affects the way I learn. I’ve learned that I need to start letting go of biases that hold me back from establishing the whole truth. I’ve realized just how many factors go into very important issues that we hear about daily, as well the number of collaborators that are involved in the multifaceted issues and solutions that concern communities. I am keen to experience the continued growth throughout this degree and to continue to learn about how I think and the ways in which I can apply it.