Nicki Steel ’69

Nicki Steel ’69 with Chad Milton ’69 at a recent reunion

I did not go to CC under the Block Plan but I played a small but important part in its development. I had taken my second semester of my junior year off to travel in Europe. In order to graduate in June of ’69 I went to summer school and got some credits but had to take a heavy load (6 courses!) each semester my senior year. The week before first semester finals I took a break from studying and went skating where I met up with Glenn Brooks. He had been my advisor and I had also babysat for his girls so we knew each other well. I told him how overwhelmed I was – papers to write, last classes to go to, exams to prepare for. I was just barely getting through and certainly not learning much.

When visiting with Glenn at my recent 50th reunion he told me that our conversation was one of two pivotal times for him in his thinking about how learning takes (or doesn’t take) place. I knew that he had referred to me in speeches when the Block Plan was being discussed but I did not realize that our skate conversation really helped him develop his ideas. Then, I was one of the many students who helped count chairs, take minutes at department meetings and help students fill out mock schedules. It was a heady time.

A few years later I sat in on the first day of classes under the Block Plan. It was about the roots of a liberal arts education and co-taught by Glenn and science professor. Instead of what I had experienced where freshmen sat without saying a word, the class was full of life and ideas as the Block Plan class discussed their own important educational experiences. Gosh, I wish I could have experienced that!

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