Hearts opened through personal perspectives
Published: Monday, February 17, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014 15:02
Sharing of one’s feelings or emotional experiences to allow self-understanding is done not often enough, according to a class that does not see itself as a regular setting for students.
Humanities and philosophy department Chairperson David Houston said what his students do in his Understanding Love course is share personal feelings tied to an emotional event.
“(Emotional events) can be either an up or a down. This is not a normal class and I have no interest in this being a regular class,” Houston said.
Student Eleanor Demby said, “The class focuses on everyday experiences and life experiences, and (Houston) speaking on the subject is comfortable and not intense.”
Demby also said the humanities course, which meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Computer Technology Center, expands and explores the entire topic of love.
“Not (just) in the erotic sense, (the course) is about the universal sense of love — like the love of trees or how you love different things,” she said.
English major Demetri Doiron said love is something that everybody needs and wants, and taking this course has enabled him to identify that set of emotions.
Doiron had previously taken another course with Houston and still needed to fulfill humanities units needed to transfer. He enrolled once he saw the listing.
“He touches (love) from all angles and makes you express how you feel, not what people think of you,” Doiron said.
Houston stresses how students cannot simply drift through the course.
“This class is more demanding because you can’t hide in this class. (Because of that) students today are quicker to irritate. A lot of our problems, I think, are because we’re less loving now and less caring — we are good destroyers,” he said.
He also said students are often times too angry to admit their problems, and hold them in longer than what is mentally healthy.
“There are jerks everywhere and your personal (everyday) experience is intricate to what the human community will become,” Houston said.
He added that the class is an attempt to have a setting where people can be more honest with each other and open up.
Doiron also said the class helps students communicate with each other and therefore better know one another.
“You leave feeling expressive, and since you understand love better, you’ll be able to dish it out more effectively,” Doiron said.
Demby said that love cannot be taught, but can be researched. He compared it to remorse.
“Most people make the mistake of attaching themselves emotionally and not understanding what’s behind it,” she said.
Each student recounts a past emotional experience in front of class along with presentations on the four course books, done in groups.
Dental assisting major Esmeralda Madriz enjoys the fact that students share, because everyone learns what afflicts individuals on the inside, instead of just the outside.
Fellow student Susan Hildago also finds it enjoyable to understand different love stories. She said a lot of people don’t know the meaning of love.
Hildago said she plans to share about the time her niece was born describing it as an “innocent love,” and wants to learn more about love, in general.
Demby shares that same sentiment with Hildago.
“I’m curious about the course because I don’t know what to expect and Houston’s ideas are always interesting,” Demby said.
Houston also talked about how the push for standardization is eliminating courses without a definitive student learning outline or immediate results.
Former drama department chairperson Clay David, who during his tenure had discussed plans on co-teaching a class with Houston, said the idea of a humanities course with a simplified outcome is hard to do. It is about the heart and the mind, not a grade.
“It is hard to quantify the spirit of this course. Say, for example, if you are in a math class, you can at least measure how well you are doing in the course, but when we talk about philosophy, inspiration, celebration, hope or a journey of the arts, it could take years for it to be quantified,” David said.
“You can’t quantify feelings of inspiration and compassion,” he said.