When universities were first founded, they were created as a space for open, uninhibited debate. They weren’t created so students could sit and be talked at for four years. They were founded so students could learn from experts, then debate with each other to grow their understanding. But when I go to class and whenever the professor wants participation, almost no one speaks up.
Sure, the places that come to mind when we think about these first universities are places like Oxford and the Sorbonne, not good old UND. But why should that matter? We’re all university students. We’re all here at our respective universities for the same thing. Something in us was curious and motivated to learn.
Why would we shoot ourselves in the foot by not taking advantage of every opportunity we can? We pay a lot to be here. If you’re an out of state student like me, you’re paying about 12,000 dollars a year, which comes out to about 67 dollars per class day. If you’re an in-state student, you’re paying about 45 dollars per class day.
Either way, that’s a lot of money. We all come in knowing we’re going to leave with tens of thousands of debt. If we know we’re going to be committing years of our life to paying this off, why wouldn’t we take full advantage of the university life while we have it? In the end, it costs the same either way. Studies have shown that we have to engage with our class material in a variety of ways to really learn it. Debating in class about what we’re learning and challenging other student’s takes on the material is a great way to make sure we really understand what we’re learning. Plus, if you misunderstand something, the professor is right there to help you.
Speaking up can be intimidating. There’s definitely a fear of being judged if you’re wrong, or of looking unintelligent in front of your classmates. My opinion is that it doesn’t matter. We’re all here to learn, and it’s better to find out you’re wrong in class than on the test.
I find it irritating when no one wants to speak up. Everyone has a different experience of life, so they have a different perspective. I want to hear other perspectives. I didn’t come to college to sit in an echo chamber of the same things I already knew. If I didn’t want to grow as a person, I would have stayed in my hometown. It would be a lot cheaper than coming to college.
But I came here to UND. I decided it was worth 67 dollars a day to be here, because I wanted to have a better understanding of the world and people around me. I can’t get that unless people speak up, none of us can. None of us can get the understanding of material from different perspectives, like we were intended to. Speak up in class. In my opinion, all of our educations depend on it.