English field study class replaces passive learning with passion


Bridget Kingston, Features Editor

Professors undeniably deal with indifferent students every semester, especially if they teach general education classes like English 1101 or 1102. With this in mind, College of DuPage Professor Carly Huegelmann decided to take matters into her own hands this semester with a holistic, alternative approach to teaching English.  

By merging interdisciplinary instruction with concepts of well-being, Huegelmann revives the zealous aspect to learning that is often absent from the classroom. Her new English 1101-FS017 class has already pushed its students leaps and bounds beyond where they might be with a traditional English class.

Student Cody Welsh stated that writing about what really interests him has made all the difference.

“I want to write about what I feel, and what I think, and what I need,” said Welsh. “When you write about something you like, your heart is in it. And it’s so much easier to focus and get your thoughts together. You start focusing on the details and wanting to make it perfect. You start caring.” Welsh described his favorite unit thus far, Nature and Exercise.

“Teachers need to be advocates and lead by example,” said Huegelmann. “My goal as a teacher is always to inspire and help students reach their full potential.”

Based off of the 8 Ways to Wellbeing by Dr. Roger Walsh, the core concepts for the class are Service, Relationships, Nature, Meditation, Spirituality, Recreation, Nutrition, and Exercise. Huegelmann reached out to Dr. Walsh about basing an English class off of his ideas, in which he responded saying he wished he had the opportunity to be exposed to such concepts at that age. Dr. Walsh’s overall goal with his 8 Ways to Wellbeing is to catalyze a national, and eventually international, movement towards healthier lifestyles, self-empowerment, and greater mental health and wellbeing.

From those eight concepts, the students are free to branch off and write in any direction that suits them. Word count, works cited, and research aren’t the focus here; Huegelmann is in search of real writing from the heart, done with passion and honesty.

Rachel Contacessi, also a student in Huegelmann’s field study class, feels she is much more connected and involved in writing her essay for the Relationship unit than anything she might be learning in a traditional English class.  

“It is just so much more deeply rooted than writing about any other topic because you hold relationships so close to your heart,” said Contacessi. She is currently writing her essay for this unit on her bond with her sister, something she knows she would never have been able to explore in writing through a conventional English class.

The class organized a fundraiser for Syrian refugees that took place in the Student Services Center lobby on Sept. 15. The fundraising idea was a collaborative effort that came to life through a class discussion during the Relationship unit. Huegelmann wanted the students to have a real life feel for being an active member in the world’s issues, as well as to further fuel their ideas for writing. The fundraiser was complete with fresh baked goods for sale, free flowers, and artists giving henna tattoos. They raised over 200 dollars and donated it to help Syrian refugees.

The class has even gone so far as to create a website, to further expand their ideas and insights. Photos, blogs, quotes and essays from Huegelmann and her students give viewers a realistic perspective on this uniquely candid class. Their website can be found at http://inspiredwriting.wix.com/write, as well as their Facebook page, Unf*ck Writing: Field Studies.

This is the first semester at COD that the class has been offered, although Huegelmann says the idea has been in the works for years. The class has been approved for next semester, along with an English 1102 field study class. She hopes to keep the same group of students together to maintain the tight knit and personal nature of the class.