Can discussions teach? "YES they can!"

Aug 11, 2010   //   by AngieLittle   //   Summer Program 2010  //  2 Comments

Hey all!

I’m Joyjit (or Joy, as I like people to call me), and I’m a Compass 2010 student from India (yep, that’s right! THE India!). I’ve only had one more experience with a summer program (we don’t do many of those in India), and that was EPGY at Stanford last year. I pretty much expected Compass to be the same, but after the last three days’ classes, I can surely term the two programs as poles apart!

Coming from the Indian education system, I’ve pretty much been deprived of the concept of ‘discussions in class’. I’m used to lectures, and homework assignments, and more lectures, and still more homework assignments, and so on… So what I’m used to is basically being fed the facts, and then working with them to solve problem sets.

The Compass format, understably, is radically new for me. It completely does away with the conventional image of a professor standing behind a desk and teaching a class (comprising of about 10% students sleeping). Basically, we have no lectures. The spectacular thing is that the Compass classes are all about discussions and self-learning processes. We even think about HOW to think (cool, right?)! Whatever progress we’ve made till now in the Compass classes (which is quite significant I think, but I don’t know if the teachers would agree :S) has more or less been been based on deductions made by students! Of course, the discussions always follow an initial prompt, but the whole process of learning induces excellent understanding. We think, we discuss, we debate, and we try our best to come to a consensus. But we keep coming up with just more questions! And that’s what makes it so much more amazing! The system takes time to be absorbed, but its worth the wait…

 The teachers and RAs are great too! What shows this is that I’ve not once felt sleepy in their company :P! They’re fun to learn from. (I’ll write more about them later. I’m hungry and I’m heading for dinner now.)

I’ve probably written stuff that is redundant (that shows that I’m really impressed by the Compass Project :D), but I didn’t know how much I should write. I’ll ask Anna before my next post.

I’ll write again soon!

P.S. – This is my first ever blogpost, so if you all have any criticism or suggestion, do let me know. Thanks :).


  • Thanks Joy for adding an awesome post! I swear we did not pay Joy to write this.

  • What an inspiring testimony! Compass is such an phenomenal project. It’s really great to hear about students taking the initiative to really own their educational experiences, and that there are dedicated educators out there that are so committed to providing undergrads with these opportunities for meaningful scientific discovery! Go Compass!

Leave a comment to Alicia Craven