15 May 2007

the lawrence bubble

Annemarie's recent post made me giggle a little bit, but it's quite true.

When students come to college, they essentially sequester themselves for four years in pursuit of higher education. I also feel that this is especially true at Lawrence --- she mentions The Bubble, and even within departments there is some sequestering. I bring up the Physics department because I'm familiar with it, but I think physicists' high level of sequestering may be unique here. As an example, we (physicists) essentially take for granted that Fall term, Sophomore year (Computational Mechanics) is when the class comes together as a community. Why? Because we close ourselves into a windowless room for hours on end in the pursuit of higher learning. (On a side note... I wonder how the class will change after Professor Cook retires...) And then after that, it's not uncommon to spend entire nights in the locked building doing problem sets.

Of course, this isn't quite the same thing as being in the Lawrence Bubble for four years and then entering the real world --- my example is so specific, it's not really useful in a "general knowledge of the world" sense. But for as an analogy, it still works. In order to gain understanding of the world at large, you have to take time --- usually alone --- to really focus on it. Like a Quaker meeting, this requires periods of silence --- you can't understand complex things just by being told, you need time to work it out in your own mind.

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