Give Me Some Slack: Balancing Learning Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Pitzer engages students both inside and outside of the classroom. This has, and always will be, one of the main reasons I chose to attend Pitzer College. From the incredible research opportunities to the vast and dynamic professor and faculty relationships one can build, from the amalgam of study abroad programs to the engaging service projects in the area, Pitzer challenges students to learn everywhere. In this way Pitzer, institutionally, breaks down the classroom and gives students the world instead. Because, as Pitzer teaches us, the classroom and the world are really just one in the same.


So it makes sense that our campus is aesthetically intellectually engaging. One cannot look around Pitzer without confronting drought politics, environmental sustainability or politically charged artwork. Pitzer’s campus itself is a classroom.

An unlikely piece of Pitzer’s aesthetic that has taught me about college, about intellectual stimulation, about self and about balance is a slackline. I found this particular slackline hung by administration on the mounds on a typical warm fall evening. I was curious and entertained but mostly, I was confused. No one seemed to be particularly good at it and it wasn’t necessarily rewarding. The first sixty times (at least) I tried it, I fell off. And not a ‘stuck it smoothly landing’ fall, but a ‘toppled over, bruised legs, stubbed toes’ fall. The slackline wasn’t particularly friendly nor was it particularly welcoming. But I found it engaging, challenging and a little endearing – I was sold. I wanted to know what this piece of Pitzer’s campus had to teach me.

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While working at Pitzer last summer I promised myself that I would slackline for 20 minutes every day for 100 days. The first week I was horrible, the second just short of terrible, the third just bordering okay and the fourth mediocre at best. It took me weeks of focus, of time, of dedication to learn to walk all the way across and then more minutes, hours, days to learn to do it all backwards. The hours of time I spent on that slackline, flailing my arms about my head, taught me humility, affirmed my passion for driven, determined, good old hard work, and solidified the importance of focus. Slacklining helped me engage more in my classes, balance my co-curricular activities and be present with my peers.

Pitzer engages students both inside and outside of the classroom. This has, and always will be, one of the main reasons I chose to attend Pitzer College. Whether you choose to take part in a study abroad program, do research with a professor or spend one hundred days falling off of a slackline, know that Pitzer will challenge you to learn outside of the confines of a classroom. Whether you build strong ties with faculty, engage with a service project in the area or learn to balance a tightrope, expect to break down the classroom/world dichotomy and embrace that they are, in fact, one in the same.

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Posted by Briana Stansbury ’15, Double Major in English and World Literature/Gender & Feminist Studies