You Live and You Learn — A Reflection of Dr. Kalchman’s HON 207

Author: Deyana Atanasova

The Honors Program has given me so many enriching experiences in the classroom throughout my time at DePaul, but there’s one class in particular that has helped me redefine my experience here and likely beyond—yes, even through Zoom.

That class is Dr. Mindy Kalchman’s HON 207: “How People Learn.” To be fully transparent, I was initially planning on taking a linguistics course for the HON 207 requirement this autumn quarter, but because of the switch to online remote learning, and scheduling conflicts, the course wasn’t offered. 

Despite the uncertainties and the general havoc in everyone’s life right now, the 3 hours a week spent in Dr. Kalchman’s class are extremely worthwhile, engaging, and applicable. Sometimes, we even get a cameo from Jude, her bearded dragon. 

I’m by no means a cognitive science person (or any type of science, really), but this class has redefined metacognition for me in an accessible way.  Even within the first few weeks, I felt like I had learned several threshold concepts with regards to learning. Like, for example, did you know that learning styles aren’t really a thing? Or that atoms are made up of…cells? Who knew?!

The class, however, isn’t overflowing with theory; it’s a perfect blend of key concepts from constructivism in a constructivist classroom setting–how’s that for being meta? For an Honors class, the rigor isn’t nestled between the usual lengthy essays or niche and siloed scholarly readings but rather within introspective reflection papers and succinct, applicable texts. These are supplemented with guest speakers, class activities (like doing origami or mini math exercises which, I swear, are actually fun), TedTalks, and in-depth, multi-faceted discussions.

I feel that in this class, I’m not only learning for me but also learning how others learn, learning how to learn, and also honoring interdisciplinary conversations about economics, policy, athletics, music, graphic design, writing, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Each class period is unique, each reflection is different, and I am incredibly grateful for Dr. Kalchman’s consistent feedback and course adjustments in the midst of everything going on.

This is a class where you get to actually be mindful about where you are–something that has been quite kind to me as I reach the end of my undergraduate experience in the middle of quarantine. It has allowed me to look back reflectively, to be present in the discussion and current circumstances, and also look to the future. I’d say that I wish I took this class earlier so I had these foundational concepts in mind, or that I could take it later when I had more experience and maybe witness it in person, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a class that meets you where you are–literally wherever you are (one of my classmates even calls in from Greece)–and allows you to build momentum, each class and each reflection serving as a stepping stone for constructing your own meaning of learning and your own conceptions of how to learn.