by Liz Norell, associate director of instructional support
While CETL loves offering our teaching (and teaching-adjacent) community opportunities to collaborate around excellent teaching and meaningful learning, not every gathering has to involve people talking to others to accomplish that goal. That’s why we’re piloting a new program this fall: Podcasts & Puzzles.
The idea is simple, and it’s borrowed from the phenomenon known in some circles as parallel play: We gather in a room together, listen to a (teaching) podcast, and engage in a quiet activity — like putting together a puzzle.
The New York Times wrote about parallel play — “Let’s Ignore Each Other in the Same Room” — in 2021. The benefits of engaging in individual activities while in the presence of others “can help relieve stress and diminish the sense of isolation,” according to Dr. Zheala Qayyum, quoted in the Times article. This kind of gathering can be especially comforting for more introverted adults.
CETL will host the Podcasts & Puzzles gatherings every two weeks in Hill Hall. The group will choose an episode of a teaching-related podcast (like Teaching in Higher Ed, Tea for Teaching, or Intentional Teaching [full disclosure: hosted by CETL’s own Derek Bruff]). Participants can work on a puzzle (alone or with others) or engage in other activities, like knitting/crochet, art projects/coloring, or doodling.
Parallel play is especially inviting for those who are neurodivergent (such as people with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or other neurodivergent conditions). Because the emphasis in parallel play is explicitly not on interpersonal interactions, neurodivergent people typically need to expend less effort to engage.
We invite you to come and learn a little about teaching, take your gaze away from digital devices, and engage your brain differently than normal — all in service to excellent teaching and meaningful learning.
Offered on selected Wednesdays from 2:00-3:00 pm in Hill Hall 214:
September 13 & 27
October 11 & 17
November 1, 8, & 29