Higher education with higher purpose.

Winter 2013

Editor's Corner

By William Todd

Are Integrity and Experiential Learning Related?

William Todd

This issue of the Newsletter focuses largely on the value of experiential “hands on” learning. “Integrity” is the theme focus for the Business Department for 2012-2013. These two concepts have a relationship that you may not have considered.

Integrity will be addressed in more detail as we go through the school term. Briefly, the word “integrity” stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). Therefore, integrity implies a sense of “wholeness” that usually is applied in qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold. However, there is another application:

The following is an illustration I shared with one of my classes to illustrate integrity: Years ago, tailors from Hong Kong came to Rochester and took orders for low-cost custom tailored suits. I went to their location and they took my measurements, showed me samples of the various high quality cloth samples, and suit designs. I ordered several suits and they were made and delivered to me. They looked great, fit well, and had a quality tailored appearance. However, shortly after wearing them they began to fall apart because, while the cloth was high quality and the tailoring was excellent, the thread holding them together was poor quality.

I believe the above illustration is apparent. We may seem to have all of the right things in place but if one of those things is not consistent with the whole, then the whole “suit” falls to pieces.

Experiential “hands on” learning is great and a wonderful tool that can also help demonstrate where we lack integrity or are incomplete in some area. For example, we may take lessons in the classroom learning “how to swim” but the true test is when we are taken out to the lake and tossed overboard. We may have the “know how” but can we really swim? Internships and other practical “hands on” life experiences help us realize whether we have integrity and have actually “learned” to swim or not.

Sometimes we are placed in situations where the integrity issue is character; other times it relates to our skills, knowledge or spiritual development. But even if we are shown where we lack integrity in some area, it is very often not a bad thing; therefore, think of these experiences as a “quality control” measure in a positive way. If your heart is in the right place, we “learn” where we lack and it gives us a chance to work on and improve those areas.

At the other end of the spectrum, some of us that lack confidence may discover, through practical experiences, that we really do have integrity. So, in conclusion, embrace the “hands on” experiences that are provided for you to help you grow in INTEGRITY!

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