Posted in Mental illness

Crying in Class Discussion

Today I was going through old drafts for blog posts, and this was number one. Last semester in my Personal and Social Adjustment psychology class, we discussed mental illness, and it made my eyes well up with tears. We were given questions to answer before we broke into small groups for discussion. Finally, we came back together as a class for further discussion.

The questions immediately hit me. The stigma is so real. Nobody in the class really laughed or made immature comments; for the most part, everyone was understanding. Many had either experienced or knew someone who was experiencing some sort of mental disorder. However, the stigma I felt about myself hit hard.

The thing about mental illness is that every case is unique. I think the term “mental illness” brings certain disorders to mind, but the fact is that there are different types of mental disorders. Take a look at the DSM, and you’ll see many possible disorders affecting such a wide variety of people. Each person’s situation is different, so judging people who are based on a diagnosis alone doesn’t make much sense. Two people may be diagnosed with one disorder, but their symptoms may be on opposite sides of the spectrum. Maybe that’s one reason some people find it so hard to admit they have a mental disorder–they are afraid of the stereotypes that come with diagnosis.

Personally, I think people who have sought treatment for mental illness are probably better adjusted than those who have not; they have learned problem solving skills. Compare a person like that to someone who self-medicates; one is receiving professional treatment and is using various methods to cope with their feelings. Those who self-medicate have fairly ineffective methods. So why do we as a society welcome those who self-medicate and shun those who face their problems head on?

Finally, when I looked around that class, my heart was happy to see people who are accepting, who do not view mental illness as something to be hidden. These people were open about their experiences and expressed concern for others. I’ve never understood how you can look at someone struggling and shrug, say, “They’re crazy/weird,” and walk away. How can they not see people need help? How can they not address the struggles of others? Not only did my classmates sympathize, but some students even nodded in agreement as I spoke about my OCD, saying they too had done some of the things I thought made me crazy. That class as a whole was a great experience, a highlight in a bleak semester, a class I will not soon forget.

Posted in College, Writing

Researching for Classroom Assignments

Okay, so I tend to choose obscure things to research for assignments. I like what I like, and who wants to do the same subject as everyone else, anyway? However, while researching, it can be slightly infuriating to visit acclaimed sites that are supposed to be chock-full of information and come up with few useful results. Sometimes, this is where people give up and choose another topic. That’s not really fun, though. I’ve been sticking around for the challenges and uncovering some interesting information. I think it’s hard to be in college and have so many assignments that you can’t dedicate yourself to them all, and it’s probably negatively effected our research skills.

Patience can pay off, though, when you end up with a unique paper/project that you actually learn from because you put the extra effort in. Developing good research skills is necessary in college. Many schools have web and other resources available through the library, which includes access to these cool databases you would otherwise have to subscribe to.

I’m almost done rambling. Here’s what I want to do in the future: I want to compile some of these resources from projects I’ve done and am doing to help make research easier…even though search is half the fun. Just a list of where to find certain sources. Then again, maybe it’s the research that helps us grow and learn and overall succeed in college.

Posted in College

Getting Involved in Classroom Discussion

If your college course is discussion-based and anything like some of mine have been, crickets emerge when the instructor stops speaking. Asking for opinions can be painstakingly awkward because nobody’s willing to speak up. Why is that? Why is it so hard to participate in class discussions?

That answer is different for different people. I think there are some people who are too self-conscious or too shy. Maybe people just don’t care. Maybe the topic isn’t interesting to them. Maybe they’re preoccupied. Maybe they just plain don’t want to. But in a discussion driven course, this makes class dull. So dull. Ugh.

After looking at an article, I realized one big reason students probably don’t participate: they don’t know the material. They didn’t skim the chapter before coming to class, and, consequently, they might have no idea what’s going on. In my environmental science course, at least partially reading the chapter before lecture helped me understand the material better. Discussion was an important component of the class because when someone commented or asked a question, the instructor would add in these random and fascinating tidbits of information.

So my tip for getting involved? Review the material before class, even if it’s only briefly. If you get to class ten minutes early and usually skim your Facebook newsfeed as you wait, use some of the time to glance over the chapter or whatever the material is. If you know what you’re talking about, you’ll be more confident about speaking up. Because it’s cool to be involved.

Discussion can make or break a class experience. You’re driving your own education, so why not get the most out of it?

ALSO, on a personal note, I’m planning a workshop on class discussion because it’s a huge problem everywhere. It was a problem when I went to a university, and it’s kind of a problem at the community college. However, my peers at the college seem pretty willing to contribute, and it makes class interesting. ❤

Are you a student wanting tips on getting involved in classroom discussions? Read this article on the University of Iowa’s website. #foundonGoogle #goodarticle