The Learning Continuum

Tell us about an intellectual experience, either directly related to your schoolwork or not, that you found particularly meaningful. (Dartmouth Supplement)

I’m not completely tied to one academic field, and I’m not afraid to embrace it. This notion has its roots in my 10th grade English class. Personally, I believe the class should be renamed Honors English, Philosophy, and Anthropology with a Dash of History and Linguistics.

As a freshly-minted Sophomore, I had expected a boring introductory spiel and an equally boring class. I was completely wrong.

“What is ‘depth’ in learning?” Mr. Creger proposed, with a gentle smirk.

No answers.

He explained that the central aim of learning (understanding our world, self, and others) could only be attained by discovering and nurturing our personal values. Our unorthodox curriculum focused primarily on achieving this goal, dubbed “The Learning Continuum.” Impromptu Sufi spinning, in-class meditation, and third eye openings were constantly woven between self-reflection journals and Socratic seminars. Through this class, I realized that my prior school experience promoted mostly memorizing and spewing facts without integrating my personal values within my education. As I progressed through this paradigm shift, I promised to always ask myself “Why do I enjoy learning this?” as opposed to merely “What am I learning?”

My newfound perception of education guided me toward genuine interests.Two particular fields constantly piqued my inner toddler’s thirst for exploration: government politics and human biology. Remembering English class, I searched for values that linked my interests in the two fields. I discovered my desire to understand control. Electing our officials, managing body temperature, enforcing legislation, and releasing growth hormone all trace back to control – how biology governs our body, how we govern ourselves, and everything in between. At the simplest level, I love learning about humanity. I am fascinated by both the physical and psychological relationships between our desires, needs, and reality.

This realization led me to research the grey area between the two fields, the hazy and elusive intersection that most aren’t even aware of. These ideas are loosely named biopolitics, the interplay of politics and biology, and biopower, the legislative influence on the health regulation and heredity. I saw for myself that the fine line between subjects often conceals the richest opportunities for exploration. For example, how much of our political ideology is imprinted in our genetics? Does this help explain the divisive rift in political beliefs? Why does release of cortisol hormone affect willingness to vote? The potential to answer biopolitical questions has never been higher or more relevant than it is today.

This is my manifesto – an understanding that it’s okay if our interests don’t fit neatly under established subjects. Progressing into the uncharted waters of the 21st century, I’m certain that my incessant curiosity will guide my attempts to solve our generation’s unique issues. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll study yet. Maybe I’ll focus on politics, maybe on biology, or maybe on something in between. But I’m perfectly content, as I look forward to harnessing my uncertainty, exploring my options, and advancing my “Learning Continuum” with Dartmouth.

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