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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
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Kinesiology introduces new class

Department reveals paddling class for Fall 2024

The Kinesiology department at Taylor University has introduced a new course: Canoeing and the Art of Slowing, KIN 270.

Erik Hayes, professor of kinesiology, will instruct the course, beginning next fall and set to repeat every year. He wanted to unite the ideas of paddling and reflection to create the concept for the curriculum.

He sought a grant from the Women’s Giving Circle to provide necessary equipment for the class, such as canoes, paddles and life vests. It generously gave enough to open up a class for 12 students.

The class will take place at Taylor Lake from 1-3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the first half of the semester. Students will earn one elective kinesiology credit for the course. However it is being considered for its addition to the foundational core requirement KIN options, said Hayes.

“Living a beautiful life is relatively simple in design; it hasn’t changed in thousands of years, but it takes skill to live it,” said Hayes. “A canoe has not changed in hundreds of years; a solo canoe is inherently slow, simple and elegant, but it takes skill to enjoy it, especially when you consider wind and current hitting it. Winds and currents hit us in life too – the canoe is both the medium and the metaphor by which to teach students to live a slow and reflective life.”

His class combines a take on healthy living with learning how to balance the busy nature of American culture. He referenced a chapter called, “The Unhurried Life” from the book “A Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg. This chapter helped inspire the formation of the class.

Matt Renfrow, dean of natural and applied sciences, talked about the value of slowing down and appreciating life at its pace.

“The course is born out of a more holistic view of what we see the body as from Scripture, how we see humanity and human flourishing more broadly than just simple platitudes of ‘be healthy’ and ‘take care of yourself,’” he said. “The idea of slowing is very countercultural.”

The class has an inclusive nature, Renfrow said. He talked about how it is an attainable class  for anyone who wants to take it.

“We are trying to capture different preferences or facets of an active and healthy lifestyle that promotes human flourishing as opposed to just the stereotypical weight training and running,” he said.

While coming up with a name for the class, Renfrow described slowing as an artistic process. There is not always one right answer. There is more than one right way to slow down and reflect, he said.

“There are many ways to go about slowing,” Renfrow said. “It is perhaps more organic or artistic in asking the question of each person what slowing looks like for them. Creativity can be employed in this in an artistic way.”

Annika Bennett, a sophomore accounting major, said she wished she had room in her busy schedule to take the class.

“I think there are so many benefits from slowing down and taking time to reflect, pray or just be still throughout my day,” she said. “I would have looked forward to learning more about how to do that through this class.”

Hayes and Renfrow both believe anyone and everyone can benefit from taking this course. Learning to slow down and reflect on life is a beautiful process and not superfluous, Hayes and Renfrow said.

Hayes summed up the value of the course well when he talked about his own love for paddling.

“There is a beauty to how every sense is engaged,” he said. “I’m fully present and aware of how I fit into the context of my situation.”