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The views and opinions expressed on these pages are those of the developer and not necessarily those of Waubonsee Community College, its Trustees, or its administration.
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Aaron Lawler

Communications, Humanities and Fine Arts
Humanities Instructor
My Humanities are courses about curiosity. Where the arts illuminate new ways of viewing the world, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.

We not only question, but must acknowledge, our biases. To understand who we are (here and now) we have to understand our future, and the only way we can predict our future is through a careful understanding of our past. The new generation writes history, and often re-writes history based on their biases, philosophies, knowledge, and experiences. The future controls the past and what we know about the past.

Value Statements: My Humanities courses are centered on five hallmarks, designed to encourage academic achievement and personal growth. Through the Humanities we are challenged to live a life of virtue, excellence, and community.
  1. Academically Trustworthy: always do your best to be honest, authentic and genuine, and practice an openness to others 
  2. Willfully Responsible: actively choose to be engaged, mindful, accountable and reliable; listen with all of your senses
  3. Consistently Civil: keep a persistent attitude that is helpful, friendly, kind, positive and courteous;  by serving others we lead
  4. Firmly Cooperative: remain dutiful, humble, open-minded, and agreeable, even in tense or uncomfortable situations  
  5. Intellectually Brave: never be afraid to: question, take risks, or challenge ideas

Emergent learning

This is a method which allows for spontaneous engagement through questioning, the Socratic method, discussion, and collaborative exercises. Although the journey is unpredictable, the destination is always philosophy, science, and the human experience. The process is as important as the product. Learning is a continual endeavor and should be evaluated along the way, not just at the end of a unit. Trial and error is an important component of growing.

Embracing the error

I do not believe in failure - there is success and there is practice, or there is not participating. Failure is simply an undesired result which can be corrected with change. Learning is this on-going, change process. My approach is to introduce new artifacts into an open-environment, causing learners to abandon previous attitudes, and spontaneously develop new problem-solving behaviors, together. I encourage mistakes. When we act out of the norm or against the conformity, we are the error. Being that error is an anomaly, and is often a new way of doing something, even if that error was serendipitous. We should not fear the error or the mistake, but learn from them.

Designing a Course

There are a number of ways to design a course. I use two main structures: game theory (based on game mechanics, self-motivation, social interaction, and meaningful play) and character education (based on responsible citizenship, self-reliance, and community involvement). To achieve this, I use McGonigal's model: blissful productivity (we are happiest when we accomplish something), urgent optimism (self-motivation and the belief that we will succeed), social fabric (social bonds and the need for friendship) and epic meaning (the desire to do something that matters and that is bigger than ourselves).


I do not teach content. I teach others how to learn content for themselves. I believe that if you have knowledge then it is your duty to share this with others. This is what it means to be a steward of information and wisdom. We are stewards of learning. This means we are the caretakers and guardians of knowledge, of our community, and of our environment. We are keepers of cultures, the arts, and t'zu (compassion-wisdom).

Servant leadership

Success comes from following one’s own compass. I believe to serve is to lead. The servant leader will exist in your organization. She will be the voice that others turn to with questions, with concerns, and with seeking advice. If this person is going to exist, why not be that person? Why not be the leader who serves?

Epic meaning: Some will shy away from answering these quintessential human questions: Why are we here? How should we live?  and who or what am I?

I do not. After a lifetime of studying the Humanities I have found four simple truths that are shared by the greatest, most creative, and most expressive minds the world has ever known:
  1. You are here to grow and reach your full potential. 
  2. You were born to leave the world in a better place than you found it. 
  3. You should always try to pay happiness forward to others,
  4. And the meaning of life is to spend our lives on something that will carry on when we are gone. 

Digital literacy

In the ever-evolving, digital ecosystem, being digitally literate means more than just being tech savvy; it means we must be curatorial in what we choose to engage. At the intersection between the traditions of the humanities and the application of digital media, is a new way of experiencing culture, visual art, movement, sound, writing, drama and history. Virtual tools enrich our understanding of philosophy, science and the human experience.

Truth Seeking

We seek truth, not fact. We are entitled to our own truths, but facts are objective. Facts are empirically and quantifiably right, and remain permanent. Truth is the pursuit of what is right. We use facts to justify our truths, but there are no wrong answers only strongly or poorly defended arguments. Those strong arguments serve as truths. The humanist uses critical thinking, analysis, and facts to form opinions; as a philosophical and ethical perspective which values the agency of humanity and the human mind. The humanist is a truth seeker. In a culture that has come to celebrate the idea that 'What I feel to be true, must be true, no matter what others think or say', the humanist stands in stark opposition.


Sugar Grove Campus
(630) 466-7900 ext. 2861

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