Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hendrix Professor Sound Bite

I wanted to quickly mention one Hendrix sound bites that resonated with me on my fly in.

Dr. Simmons (picture above). He teaches philosophy. Before Hendrix, Dr. Simmons taught at Vanderbilt. He could have stayed at Vandy and taught for 3 years in their ethics program, but he chose Hendrix. Someone asked why. His response: "Hendrix students are about investment - as opposed to entitlement...students at Hendrix don't have to be told to study, read, and prepare. They are motivated from within and by each other to push, stretch, challenge, question, liberate, examine, apply. Students at Hendrix are unique in that they want to develop a 'we-centered,' 'others-minded,' 'globally-consciousness' paradigm for thinking and living."

Investment students versus Entitlement students. Dr. Simmons' observations gives me pause to ask some questions about myself and Casady: Are I/we passionate about infecting our students with a passion for learning? Do I/we endorse and embody a pedagogy of information? Or a pedagogy of transformation - personally, communally, and globally? Are I/we really a community that are producing students who want to "invest" in their learning experience - in other words, truly take ownership of their education? Are we really about a process of becoming global thinkers and doers?

Dr. Simmons gave me and us much to chew on.

The way, interestingly, that Hendrix is most investing in their "students of investment" is through their Odyssey Program. Odyssey, of course, implies journey, experience, adventure, discovery, challenge.

All students who are accepted into Hendrix participate in the Odyssey Program. Students are then required to complete three experiences selected from six categories: Artistic Creativity, Global Awareness, Professional Leadership Development, Service to the World, Undergraduate Research, and Special Projects.

Since the program's inception in 2005, more than one million dollars have been awarded to students and faculty to pursue their research. Rachel Achor, for example, will use her grant money to volunteer in an orphanage in Granada, Nicaragua. Lauren Bresler, another example, will fulfill her Professional and Leadership Development requirement by interning with Schwartz & Schwart in St. Louis, a small criminal law firm. And Rachel Kincannon and Staci Sutton will spend the summer in the Bahamian Islands - no, not laying out and drinking margaritas - but fulfilling their Special Project requirement by volunteering in Tarpum Bay, one of the poorest areas on the islands of Eleuthra. They will be conducting research comparing Eleuthra with Nassau, which is known to cater to tourist.

To learn more about the Odyssey Program click here.