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Connecting Classrooms
The learning that takes place while on Proctor's off-campus programs transforms students' perspectives regarding the world around them and often exposes them to situations, people, and places they never would otherwise experience. Communicating the impact of those experiences to friends and teachers on campus occurs through weekly updates from each program, however, last week, students in Tom Morgan's Modernism class had a 'face to face' lesson from students on Mountain Classroom.

Modernism students have been reading George Orwell's book, The Road to Wigan Pier, about the working and living conditions of coal miners in the 1930s. Throughout class discussions, students sincerely asked, "If these jobs are so horrible, why do people choose to work in them?"

Tom notes, "As a teacher, I felt I could have succeeded in answering this question in a reasonable and informed way; however, there was part of me that wanted something more impacting than 'reasonable' and 'informed'."

Having led Proctor's Mountain Classroom program for four years (2002-2006), Tom's experience studying border issues in El Paso sparked an idea. The Annunciation House has long been a stop for Mountain Classroom groups, and Proctor alums, as they seek to learn about the lives of migrant workers in west Texas.

After a quick phone call to current Mountain Classroom leaders Crescent and Chris, a Skype session was arranged for the following class period since the Mountain Classroom group happened to be staying at the Annunciation House at that very time. The following video clips of that Skype session shed a light on the impacts of student to student learning discussed two weeks ago in this post.

As Charlotte wrote from the road in this week's Mountain Classroom update, the impact of having direct conversations with the very people whose story they are studying is immense, "Then a guest at the Annunciation house, came into the chapel and told us her personal story. It was really powerful to create a connection with someone and then hear their story. It made everything we were reading about in social science not just words on paper, but bridged a connection between facts and reality."

Allowing students on campus to tap into the knowledge of those studying off-campus is a logical connection, one that technology has made incredibly effective in recent years. In the following clip, Alvaro, a member of the Modernism course, compares his experiences as a Mexican citizen with those of the Mountain Classroom group. 

Many thanks to the Mountain Classroom crew for continually sharing their photography and writing with the Proctor community and to Tom Morgan for capturing the conversations above on video! All Mountain Classroom pictures on this blog are compliments of Mountain Classroom this term.
An early morning Skype session with Tom Morgan's Modernism class provided an opportunity for Mountain Classroom participants to reflect on their experiences over the past few days in El Paso, Texas.
The content taught through Proctor's off-campus programs often directly applies to material studied on campus.
Connecting the two worlds allows both parties to improve depth of understanding, while also providing a unique perspective for students studying on-campus.