"Connections" Chapter 11 “Social Belonging”: Reflections from a Recent College Graduate

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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As a recent college graduate, a STEM major, and an introvert, I appreciate that the first step in this chapter to becoming a better communicator is becoming a better listener. In college, I had the chance to practice this listening through different classes, but this skill was never as explicitly explained as in this chapter. Now, I wonder what would have changed if it had been. 

On my first day of college and my first class, the professor divided us into two groups--the people who felt comfortable talking in class and the people who generally didn’t. I was in the second group at the time. But, in that conversation between the “quiet” people, we perhaps unexpectedly had a good discussion. I think we weren’t just “quiet,” but rather, we were listeners. 

I appreciated that exercise a lot. In the context of STEM classes like computer science, listening as a step of communicating is so important. I’ve only ever taken mathematics courses, not computer science. But, I don’t think you can grow as a scholar in these disciplines without collaboration based on a foundation of listening. 

In my first math class in college, we had random seating in each class. So, we worked with a new partner each lesson. At the beginning of each class too, we would answer a warm-up question by working with our partner. If called upon after this time, we would either give an answer or share what we talked about. 

Looking back, I appreciate this exercise more now as a practice in gaining emotional intelligence, conflict resolving skills, and multicultural competence, not just about reviewing content and making sure we read the chapter. I had the chance to learn from everyone in the class about mathematics, their lives, and their communication styles. 

I wonder what I would have gained if the topics of Chapter 11 were discussed more explicitly in these classroom settings. How would my understanding of listening, communicating, and social belonging changed if it had been? How would my STEM experience specifically have changed as a result? 

I can’t answer these questions for sure, but I think I would have maybe declared my STEM major earlier. I could have asserted myself in that major as one who belongs, not just someone who takes all the classes and eventually graduates with the major. 

I can’t go back now, but I still appreciate that this kind of chapter exists in a STEM book.