Ever since Martha wrote about the bullpen model that DTLT uses I’ve had this post in the back of my head. I’ve tried many times to come up with a way to talk about the influence of DTLT on my life, but I don’t think it could ever be encapsulated in one post. So, this is one attempt to talk about their influence of my life as a student and why I wish every student could get some time in a “bullpen” while they are in college.
I started working as a student aide for DTLT as a sophomore in fall of 2007 and it wasn’t hard to see right away the impact of the bullpen. From Martha’s post:
There is almost constant conversation, and, as a result, there is almost constant collaboration. It’s an incredibly dynamic, intense way to work. We see each other at our best and at our worst. We have argued around these desks; we have each at one point or another needed to leave the room because we needed to take a breather.
Sitting around the bullpen alongside the members of DTLT and watching them argue and discuss ideas helped me realize that learning is not only done in a solitude. I saw how hashing out ideas led to the creation of projects, initiatives and change. I learned many lessons in how to think and question ideas in productive ways. At some point I had that “aha!” moment where I realized, “Ah, this is how people learn to be great thinkers. They talk to each other and push each other and aren’t afraid to take positions.” It demonstrated to me that it really is okay that people have different ideas, even on the rare occasion when things get so incredibly heated someone has to leave the room, it is still okay (there is also a lesson in forgiveness and understanding in all this too).
It may seem obvious, but this was honestly a mind-blowing experience to me as a student. I vividly remember there being times when I felt true awe (a sort of brain high) after a particularly thoughtful and intense discussion. I can only speak from my experience, but the majority of my academic life up until college was spent being a passive receiver of knowledge. When I was sitting in the bullpen they demonstrated to me every day through their work and their conversations how the “life of the mind” happens. I look back on it now and think of it as form of apprenticeship. What better way to learn how to think critically about ideas and to put those ideas in to motion than to watch and interact with those who are already really good at it?
These types of interactions can’t be quantified and graded, but they are absolutely essential to becoming a well rounded individual. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t worked for DTLT, but I can’t fit the entirety of that experience in one line on a resume. Instead their influence is seen in the ideas and the projects I come up with now. When I challenge myself and others around me to think and to try new ideas that is the influence of the bullpen shining through. So here’s to the bullpen and the myriad of people at the University who gathered in that space and transformed my life by giving me the opportunity to be a part of the conversation.