The Big Picture
By Jamie McDonald
The communication between people is like the communication of dots within a pointillism painting. Pointillism is an artistic technique involving tiny dots of multiple varieties of hues to create an image. Individual people can be looked at as individual dots as individuals are colorful in their own knowledge and talents. Students in college are encouraged to work together like Georges Seurat’s painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1888).
There are a few types of classroom settings that introduce college students to different forms of communication. In a traditional classroom, instructors encourage students to participate and assign students to work in groups usually for a large project that will result in a group speech. Individuals with their own ideas have to work together to reach a common interest similar to the individual dots closest to each other in Seurat’s painting forming together to create a uniformed tone of any specified color. When students work in groups they tend to prefer face to face communication as they brainstorm together to create interesting subjects and presentations. Any group whose members are too busy for face to face meetings can use the college’s Blackboard system to stay in touch with one other. Blackboard was created for online or virtual classrooms. Online college classes require students to answer questions and comment on others answers or they are ongoing discussions where a student starts the conversation and other students respond to their questions and comments. Students have the freedom to choose who to associate with or which questions to answer as Seurat did when forming the figures out of the unified colors. There have been classes that involve satellite video-conference where students sit in a classroom and interact with their instructor and other students from different classroom locations by the use of a television or monitor and a camera (basically Skype in a classroom setting). The interaction that takes place within a video-conference class or through distance learning is similar to the clusters of color that create depth within the painting. Each dot within Seurat’s painting not only has to correspond with the dots that create the cluster of an object but it also has to communicate with other dots, colors, and clusters that are throughout the painting or the painting would be abstract rather than an actual scenery that Seurat wanted people to view.
Experience of communication continues outside of the classroom into campus life. The campus community is filled with many opportunities for students to associate with each other usually through clubs, Fraternities, and Sororities. Clubs offer students a place where they talk with other people who have the same interests offering a laid back environment for students who are looking for something to do or for socialization. Fraternities and Sororities arrange events that involve students and the community outside of the campus. Such events include food drives, toy drives, and other ways to help people within society. Most of the clubs, Fraternities and Sororities invite students via mass e-mail so that students who are interested have the opportunity to join in on the events. Being involved in extra circular activities in college gives students the idea of what to expect when they enter into the working world. Much like the people within Sunday Afternoon as the clumps of color begin to become noticeable as people.
Some college students have jobs while they attend college or before they attend college and are able to use and apply their communication skills to both environments. College is very similar to a job. Students talk to each other and learn from each other the same way co-workers accomplish their daily tasks. Students converse with their instructor the way they would a boss usually asking for specified details about an assignment or share ideas about what was discussed within the class session. As students progress through college, they become comfortable with speaking to others and practice communication skills which are comparable to the detail created by the dots found within the faces of the people in the foreground of Seurat’s painting.
Everyone is born with the knowledge to communicate; college just puts a finer point on how students use their skills. Like George Seurat, I paint a picture by using my communication skills towards my job as a library page. A library page has multiple tasks that require them to talk to people such as the patrons, library assistance, and the librarian while keeping the library items in order. The library assistance help patrons and do various tasks at the desk to help the librarian. The librarian also works with the patrons, orders materials, and communicates with the people who are higher up within the library system. There are many libraries within the library district that I work for and each location has library pages, library assistance, and librarians. All of the library locations are under the same administrators. The administrators take care of problematic issues, set up programs that involve patrons, and keep the branches operating in sync. All the people involved with using and working with or for the library district help to make the libraries look good which reflects and makes the community look good in return. As a library page, I create my place within the big picture.