Nik Simonsen '24
BC Splash: The Importance of Teaching
In middle school, I believed that the only areas of study that would get me anywhere in life were math and science. This was rather unfortunate, as I wasn't good at either. Then, in 7th grade, my mom forced me to go to a program called Splash at Yale. I went reluctantly: it was a long drive, and the last thing I wanted to do with my weekend was spend it in yet another classroom. But oddly, I enjoyed it. The classes I took that weekend weren't on the boring subjects I hated, but on things I was actually interested in, such as history and politics. To this day I still remember taking classes on the tank battle at Kursk, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. For the first time, I realized that education could go beyond what I had previously thought possible, and maybe there was still some hope for me.
Fast forward to my arrival at Boston College. I was a new freshman looking for things to do. It was also the fall of 2020, which made doing anything at all nearly impossible due to Covid protocols. Scrolling through the virtual club fair, I came across Education by Students for Students and almost by accident clicked on it. I soon realized that this club was the parent organization for BC Splash and TedX. I'll be honest; prior to this I had pushed Splash to the back of my mind and had no intention of joining the program as a college student. But looking at the club, I was reminded of the impact that it had on mea s a young student and thought that maybe I could have that same impact on someone else. So I joined.
BC Splash is a program that holds one event each semester when local middle- and high school students come on campus to take classes taught by BC students. As a teacher, you get to teach one 50-minute class on any topic you like. Initially, I was nervous about teaching. I never saw myself as having anything of value to teach. I didn't know how to command a classroom, and the act of teaching had always seemed very distant to me. But with the help of other club members, I realized that teaching was less about providing some profound insight and more about sparking someone's curiosity and delving deeper into a subject you find interesting. Since then I've taught classes ranging from "The History of Sneakers" to "Is Ignorance Bliss? An Examination of Plato's Allegory of theCave." As I taught more classes, I saw my confidence increase and my presentation skills improve as well.
Being on the other side of the teacher's podium has opened up a whole new perspective for me, and I think it is something everyone should experience. It allowed me to look at my professors in a more nuanced light and examine their teaching styles. I was also able to see how I could be a better student.
Now as President of the club, I feel that I've come full circle in my Splash career. It has been a journey that I never would have imagined going on as a freshman. It has been turbulent and challenging at times, but well worth it in the end. I would recommend that everyone try teaching at some point; it's a valuable skill that can be applied to all parts of your life. Being a part of those classes as a middle schooler is one reason why I ended up applying for the IS major.
To put in a shameless plug, I also recommend you teach for BC Splash. It's a great program and a wonderful way to share something you are passionate about. If you're interested, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nik Simonsen '24