Archive for Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Unique learning opportunities

Interterm offers Baker students chance to take unusual classes

January 28, 2004

Celtic music played as Baker University students danced a jig, while across campus others cut and fit pieces of colored glass together. Later in the afternoon, the south end of campus filled with fly fishers who practiced their form.

While it might seem unusual to a visitor, Thursday was really no different than any other typical class day during the interterm session at Baker.

Many Baker students spent much of January taking classes, but Erin Joyce, assistant professor of French, said the classes aren't typical to a majority of universities.

"Interterm is really designed for students to take a class they normally wouldn't take," she said. "These are things you wouldn't find in a typical university catalogue."

Joyce taught Irish Ceili dancing, a brief history of Irish dance and how it fits into the culture. The 22 students who took her course also learned some of the basic Irish dances as well.

"This is a unique experience," she said. "There really isn't a chance to learn this anywhere else in the area."

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Stacy Cohen, Baker's director of public relations, said the idea behind interterm is to offer students the opportunity to take unusual classes.

"It's a chance to extend learning with a unique experience," she said. "It really allows students to tap into something that interests them and excites them about learning."

Cohen said Baker started interterm approximately 35 years ago. Students are required to take interterm at least three years.

For about three weeks during January, when a majority of other universities are on winter break, Baker students take one class that meets for at least three hours a day. The classes are taught by Baker professors.

Cohen said the classes vary each year, but everything from scuba diving to fundamentals of fly fishing have been offered.

"It's really a mix of things students can choose," she said. "This gives students a chance to try a different type of learning."

Travel abroad for classes has even been possible with the Climatic Battles of World War II where students visited battle sites in Normandy and England.

"It really brings the learning alive for a lot of students," she said.

Art Professor Walt Bailey, who taught flat glass design and construction this interterm, said while the interterm classes aren't usually typical college classes, they are still educationally important.

"Learning takes place in a variety of different ways for a variety of different people," he said.

"In a class like this, people learn as much about life as glass. You have to understand what you are working with. That's a life goal," he said. "You are able to see your limitations. I think that's a good way to learn about oneself."

While there are some that don't like interterm, Bailey said, a majority, both students and teachers alike, enjoy the opportunity to do something different.

"I find it to be one of the most exciting times of the year," he said.

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