Give a “Hamburger Helper” letter

A fellow colleague of mine in social sciences shared an exercise about having your present students leave a legacy for incoming students next semester.  I thought it was a great idea, and thus I assigned each student in my present classes to compose a “hamburger helper” letter to students who will be taking my thinking critically and creatively courses in the spring of 2016.

In reviewing their letters, I was delighted with their candor, insight, and wisdom.  In the spring on the first day of class, each student will be given a letter to read. Then they will be asked to exchange their letters with other students until 5 exchanges have been made followed by a class discussion.

Here are letters written by two students—

“Dear Future Student,

There are several ideas about this class that you should know. At first you may think this class is irrelevant and dull, however give it a chance. Upon further examination, you will find this class is very interesting and highly entertaining. I can apply everything I’ve learned in this class to everyday life; and I am very glad I took this class so early in my program. If you are near the end of your program, it is more than likely that you will wish you would have taken it earlier. There is so much useful information in this class that can be applied to other classes and situations in your everyday life. Keep an open mind to everyone’s opinions and beliefs, and others will do the same for you. There are plenty of opportunities for you to share your thoughts and beliefs in this class unlike most other classes. I hope you enjoy this class as much as I did!”


Dear Future Student,

I am a Fall 2015 student, that just completed Mr. Vanden Busch’s ‘Thinking Critically and Creatively’ class. I would like to pass on a few words of encouragement, as you start out your semester. I know this may not be your first choice for a class you’d want to take, it wasn’t mine either. In the beginning, it was difficult to find a desire or motivation to absorb the information being given. I know that some of this may seem out dated, boring, or sometimes maybe even stupid, but I want to say, “Stick with it!” Over the semester, I chose to try my best to absorb what I could, even if I didn’t agree with all of it. After all, you are paying for the class.  But in all seriousness, I learned a lot from this class, along with getting to meet awesome people, do some interesting activities, and enjoy being myself and having my own opinion.

Words of advice: Show up on time, turn in your homework, respect one another, don’t be on your phone, don’t be afraid to think outside the box or ask lots of questions, and be yourself! Enjoy the class and the chance to look at yourself and grow!

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