How Does Learning Fit into Living?

August 8, 2022

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“pattern” by cardboardcities is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Written by guest blogger Dale Tracy.

I have a set of interrelated questions that I am always working on answering in my teaching, researching, writing, and living. I’ll take the opportunity to list them. I’m articulating these questions broadly, with open and fuzzy pronouns, but they require answering in specific contexts. My article in UTQ offers one way that I have answered them.

  • What makes experiential learning different from the experience of learning through classroom talking, reading, and writing?
  • What do arts-based projects highlight about thinking and learning in the humanities?
  • What do I understand about the world when I use methods from the humanities to engage with it?
  • In what precise ways does a specific institutional culture shape how I teach and how students learn?
  • How do universities or other institutions shore up practices that make learning seem separate from “real life” or living?
  • What inheritances, practices, and ways of thinking cause reading and writing to seem aside from “real life” or living?
  • What inheritances, practices, and ways of thinking cause the social activities of reading and writing to seem like solitary activities?
  • What needs to happen for words to be salient as forces with effects?
  • How does a new text partake of and reshape its context?
  • What possible relationships exist between reading and writing, readers and writers?
  • What is the difference between having an experience and performing an experience?
  • What strategies help us to integrate what we learn meaningfully into who we are and what we do?
  • As we participate in the world as it is, how do we manage also to participate in the world as it is not (yet)?

These are all questions about how learning fits into living. Answering them entails recognizing the models we’re working from. It also entails recognizing that whatever we create, do, or are enters—as parallel, as disruption, as new direction, as richer perspective, as more of the same—the existing structures and patterns. What each of us creates, does, or is enters the existing structures and patterns of the existing world as a model anyone else might work from and as already part of the world. In this way, we’re constantly engaged in the work of making our world, with possibilities for making it better.

About the Author

Photo of Dale TracyDale Tracy is a faculty member in the English Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Her article, “Tailor Made, Skylarking, and Making in the Humanities” was published in University of Toronto Quarterly Special Issue on the Creative Humanities.

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