educationthesis

Archive for the category “Anne”

Cómo se dice…

I have no idea what to title this post.  It’s not the last, it’s not goodbye, it’s not an ending.  None of what we’ve learned, done, or created this year will ever really be over, so no final reflection will say everything I want it to say.  I think that right there is sustainability.

First, our event.  Someone (Brenna, probably) aptly described the set-up process being like Extreme Makeover: Educhica edition.  We were scrambling to get the last posters up as our first participants walked through the door, but luckily they were friends willing to put their tape-rolling skills to use!  After that, we had a full house (bowl?) of people coming through.  It was a mixed crowd of students of differing years, roommates, professors, and administrators (up to number 2 in command).  Some weren’t able to stay for the dialogue, some (like Sharon Hay, surprise!) dropped in just for a while for the dialogue, and others stayed on after the “official” dialogue for even more dialogue.  The stories told on the posters and in the photos served as the discussion points for reconceptualizing learning and then we were able to introduce the idea of a democratic space.  Administrators and non-seniors were really excited about the idea.  Really good questions and answers came from all sides as we tried to imagine what this space would look like.  Because of that dialogue, there is still work to be done on all sides–they want ideas for where this space might be, what it would look like, and they want to show our posters to others in administration.  The fact that this didn’t end with our event I think is a sign of success, even though we’ve learned to be so selective in using that word.  Now, it’s up to us (not just the Educhicas, but who were a part of the conversation) to move forward with this.

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Grace already posted the beautiful picture of us.  The happiness and harmony between us in it is completely indicative of our group this year.  We are a motley crew, but Grace got it right when she said “none of this would’ve been possible if we did individual theses.”  Not just the work we did, but also everything that we learned through the relationships with each other, would not have been possible.  The passion we each brought to this project brought our five different personalities together.  Each meeting, we learned something new and brilliant about someone’s abroad experience, laughed away our stress, and were patient with ourselves through the confusion.  Through the trust and spontaneity, the Educhicas were born.  Ladies, you have taught me so much about bravery in tough situations (EFA), patience in unclear ones (the endless task of defining ourselves and our lens), relaxing and finding humor in everything  (every meeting), and going on loving what we’re learning.  You were inspiration, support, smiling faces, solidarity, and working hands, hearts, and minds all year.

So, like I said, this isn’t a goodbye or ending post, it’s more of a “thanks” and reflection post at this time when the nature of our relationship will be changing, but the relationship itself and the changes it has brought on will remain forever.  (and you thought you were sappy, Grace)

The importance of reconceptualizing learning

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What I was doing while the Educhicas were meeting: waiting for the commuter rail. All the people with their eyes glued to a screen seemed indicative to me–of our “age,” of the US, of something, that’s for sure.

Yesterday, the Educhicas (minus me) met to finalize our event plans.  They made an awesome outline that sets up our opening of the event, thematic pillars to organize the posters and photos, and guided discussion.  In the opening, my part is to talk about the importance of reconceptualizing learning.  OY.  It’s one of those things that I know, but is all jumbled up in my head in no coherent order.  Luckily, I have our glorious blog to peruse, so I’m going to start by extracting some pieces of what we’ve already said:

  • “Working with Sonia and Lily has reaffirmed a lesson that I learned abroad and what I consider to be the most important thing I have ever learned- the fact that laughter, love, and friendship are not limited by culture or language.” 
  • “girl activist who had said she learned far more from the people who shared their stories at rallies than anyone who had ever spoken at her.  It was a space where we were learning from each other and it was an education in activism, community support, and solidarity.”
  • “What unites the learners is a belief that learning is practiced for the sheer joy of it—rather than to acquire certification or secure a job. Learning occurs when we engage with the world, in friendship with others, using our hands and wits and reflecting on our discoveries…as a mood, a way of doing and thinking that provides another option to learners who are seeking to discover things for themselves. Learning is not about getting it right or becoming the expert; it is about creating an environment of conviviality, discovery, and joyfulness.
  • “We were able to practice some words with her and at this point I felt like the teacher and her the learner/student. It’s great to be a in a situation where these roles are constantly being reversed and switched. Such role reversals is the way the education system should always be, and the way I see it being the most beneficial […] We say that Sonia and Lily serve as an example for what education looks like and how we can learn things outside the classroom wether that is with Ray workers, on a poster next to McPhails, in a Capstone class, etc.”
  • The obsession with formal education and the US diploma have led to a valuation of that knowledge above the learning that takes places within relationships and among people who don’t have a piece of paper saying they’re $200,000 in debt for their degree.”
  • “My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors”
  • “Deconstructing what it means to have a college diploma/degree and analyzes whether or not it is symbolic (representing this notion of being “educated”) or substantive (you’ve actually learned the necessary things one needs to make it in the world, beyond just a classroom) is really really cool.”
  • “I’m not suggesting we get rid of colleges and universities. I’m not disillusion. But, we need to look more at the structural, underlying issues. I think it starts with our country’s perception of success. It is ingrained in our belief system that to be successful you have to go to a four year college directly out of high school and now, for the most part, pursue a MBA, Masters or PhD. […] Why do we put so much emphasis on learning INSIDE a classroom, when in reality, the majority of learning happens outside it?
  • “I doubt that it’s the first time anyone’s ever asked them that, but I would imagine students don’t often get asked that question.  At the least, I hope this prompt got learners thinking about their role and autonomy (or lack there of it) within learning.”
  • ” On the one hand, I am looking at this through the lens of an institution.  If education starts with the family, one of the most basic institutions within society, then it seems to be just a transferal from one institution to the next.  The optimist in me would prefer to look at Lily’s comment as education begins with a relationship.  Mother and child.  From there it just flows from relationship to relationship.  Relationships are the basis of learning communities.  Somehow though, these learning communities have become lost and mixed up with the bureaucratic and exclusionary nature of institutions.  I hope our project might be a drop in the pond in reclaiming education and these desired learning communities.”

..and all that is just since April 15th!

So, why is it important to reconceptualize learning?  I’m struggling a little, because I want to let the stories, photos, and posters speak for themselves.  I’ll try to keep my piece brief, then.  If we reconceptualize learning, we can appreciate others’ experiences and stories better.  We can see that learning is not the prerogative of the formal education system, but rather a piece of what we as individuals gain through relationships and life experiences.  Understanding learning like this begins removing the barriers between us, students/teachers, degree holders/not, etc.  Our communities are strengthened when we recognize each member’s ability to contribute to the learning of others through strong relationships.  We also tend to enjoy learning that takes place on those terms a lot more, which means for the deeper, more creative learning necessary for a better world.

What do you think?  How does that sound?  Did I leave anything out, should I be more aggressive?  I won’t read it word for word, but I just need a guide so I’m somewhat coherent.  Ah!  I’m already nervous.

 

CP Reflection by the gringa

As Taylor and Lynnzie both have posted, our last session with Sonia and Lily was filled with laughter like usual.  Sonia teased Grace about her cerveza, Taylor about her prince, and looked me in the eye and said, almost shocked, “Tú eres gringa” (you’re a gringa).  We almost died, given that we’re all gringas, but she went on to say that I am gringa gringa for my blue eyes, light hair, and profile.  If nothing else, I am successful in looking like the exported image of an American woman!  It was such a riot and led to a discussion of why some people don’t like being called gringo.  It was yet another sign of how close we’ve grown this semester that Sonia felt comfortable telling me like it is.  Lynnzie and I need to find a way to sneak into Ray to say our official goodbyes.

I printed off all the pictures I could find that we had taken, and as they went through them, they remembered almost exactly what we had been talking about that day.  For all of us, our weekly meetings were memorable.  We gave them invitations to our final event, though given the time they said they probably couldn’t make it.  We had wanted to use our time on Friday to let them pick which photos to show at the event, but they were so excited looking through them that we didn’t get that far.  Our time was also a little short because they had to end their break on time to go prepare turkey burgers.

The educhicas are now in a flurry of work preparing for our event on Wednesday.  We’re trying to put together a powerpoint that highlights important responses, we’ll have the posters set up, the pictures from Sonia and Lily, and the pictures from our facebook page (most likely).  We’re also trying to figure out how the flow of the event is going to go, in terms of balancing the stories of our storytellers with encouraging our social change (I’ll post more on that soon, don’t worry).

WHOA–bringing it full circle and kickin’ it up

FINAL EVENT DETAILS:

When: Wednesday, May 8

Time: 4:00-6:00pm

Where: the Fishbowl

Who: every single one of you

While my lovely group might be ready to sit on me and be like, “Anne, CHILL”, yesterday I was completely swept up in activist adrenaline.  It started with Lynnzie’s and my independent study celebration lunch at the Abbey with Dr. Grossman (I won’t say goodbye lunch), led to the hoodie rally led by Cedric and Dr. JZ, a peer mentoring dinner where I ran into Raf, and then a meeting about the Smith Hill Café (which I’m not even going to be around for, tear).

At the rally, PC’s issues with race and diversity were again brought to the fore.  A group of students and faculty marched from Harkins to Slavin lawn, chanting, then singing songs from the Civil Rights Movement.  As Cedric said, it’s sad we still have to singing them.  After that, there was a space for professors to explain why we were all there (check out the article tom posted on facebook) and then the megaphone became public property.  Students came forward in a succession to tell their stories about discrimination that they had felt on campus and to stand in solidarity and support of one another.  Every bit of it reflected a story behind the responses we have been seeing on our posters.

It brought everything full circle.  I used my lit review in a paper I wrote for another class (without the feedback I am STILL WAITING ON, THOMAS R. KING).  Reading it again, one of the quotes I had used was a reference to a girl activist who had said she learned far more from the people who shared their stories at rallies than anyone who had ever spoken at her.  It was a space where we were learning from each other and it was an education in activism, community support, and solidarity.  I salute Dr. Jordan-Zachery and all those who were involved in facilitating that space.

After the rally, Lynnzie and I jetted down to our posters in Slavin.  The “PC has NOT taught me” boards were full and we had one giant one left.  Inspired, we wrote a new one, “Dear PC Administration…”, on the last board we had.  After that, I sat down on the nearest couch and sent out emails to the students and faculty I had recognized at the event, eager to keep the momentum going.

We realized last night that invitations are going to be far more expensive than expected, but we need to have them printed so we can distribute them ideally Monday, but Tuesday could work too.  To do lists are my thing:

Before Saturday:

-Send out as many invitation emails as possible.

-Design postcards (thank you Sarah and Magali for responding to my frenzied texts last night)

-Send them to Kaytee Stewart or someone who can send them to Copy Center to have them printed.  (pay that department back)

-Print off pictures of/with Sonia and Lily–my idea is to print them in color on printer paper so that half of the page has the picture, and they can use the other half to write about the picture, so we can use them at our session Friday.  Thoughts?

-Have last session with Sonia and Lily (colorful from Holi).  😦

Monday/Tuesday

Pick up and distribute invitations.

-Assemble our pictures and posters–figure out plan for displaying them in the ‘bowl.

-Make powerpoint of targeted responses.

-Decide on flow and facilitation of the event.

Wednesday

set up

-make it happen

This song always plays in my head when it all starts happening like this:

 

What unites the…

What unites the learners is a belief that learning is practiced for the sheer joy of it—rather than to acquire certification or secure a job. Learning occurs when we engage with the world, in friendship with others, using our hands and wits and reflecting on our discoveries…as a mood, a way of doing and thinking that provides another option to learners who are seeking to discover things for themselves. Learning is not about getting it right or becoming the expert; it is about creating an environment of conviviality, discovery, and joyfulness.

(from Walk Out Walk On by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze)

Sound familiar?  I just stumbled across this quote while going through the enormo paper I’m writing for my honors independent study (because clearly, learning has not taken place if you don’t have 30 pages to show for it).

Making dates

RECLAIMING EDUCATION: MAY 8, 4:00-6:00 (pending confirmation)

The Educhicas could not wait any longer.  There are two weeks left of academic life at PC and last Thursday I was still lacking the imagination for our final event.  We now have photos and material from our visual research, but what on earth were we to do with it?  Lynnzie and I conferred and decided to stay after class to sort it out with tKL.  It was so helpful to talk it out and Kara, brilliant as always, took notes for us.  

All along, we’ve been thinking and talking about the learning that takes place outside of the classroom.  In the classroom, you have the division between the all-knowing professor and the student, an empty vessel.  The obsession with formal education and the US diploma have led to a valuation of that knowledge above the learning that takes places within relationships and among people who don’t have a piece of paper saying they’re $200,000 in debt for their degree.  Our photovoice deconstructs education on three levels: what students say about their education, the relationship we have with Sonia and Lily (the learning they and we have gained through our time together, their knowledge menospreciado because they don’t have degrees), and the stories and lived experiences of invisible people on this campus.  They have all sorts of lived experiences that no textbook could teach you.

With that in mind, it seems natural that we would present to faculty, administration, and other students who would carry it on.  The presentation will have to be interactive, engaging and make people start to question.  Maybe we should do a role play on what professors and students look like in civ seminar like the role play we did in capstone at the beginning of the year…

We’re meeting tonight to powwow for hoursss and hammer this out.  Stay tuned.

Art as Protest

While reading the Schmidt article, the Black Eyed Peas immediately came to mind.  I remember back in middle school when this song came out, my religion teacher was nearly dewy eyed with joy over it.  That aside, I really enjoyed these two articles (yay Ruth!).  As the NYT article notes, art can create a space for different interpretations of a piece, with the piece itself being the unifier.  The rainbow in Warsaw is a beautiful demonstration of how one work of art can promote a message of tolerance through its ability to be underArt is an area of knowledge outside of the scientific; there is something different about our interaction with it.  It brings issues to our senses in a way that goes outside of reason.  It is its own type of subversion.  You expect some sort of aesthetic experience out of art, whether it’s good music, a beautiful painting, or a performance, but during that process a powerful message is conveyed.  I think art of any kind conveys a message, but protest art is distinguished by a message that might be inconvenient, swept under the rug.

Deconstructing the college diploma: re-conceptualizing education through the lens of lived experiences

I love what Grace wrote.  Put it on my luggage.

Today, though it feels like it happened years ago, Educhicas met and invited ourselves into Sharon Hay’s office.  She graciously asked us to sit down so we could explain ourselves and get to the bottom of this poster business.  We explained where we were coming from, she gave some (rather groundless) excuses for not getting back to our email, but in the end we came away with permission for our last two prompts, easels, and posters (gotta watch the fire hazard).  We simply posted “We should talk about…” and the boards are nearly FULL already, and with incredible responses.  After I write this, I’m going to have to go put up a new board in front of one of the others because so many people have responded!  

That excitement aside, as I sat down to watch The Invisible War with Jenn (and be reminded once again that this is not a woman’s world), we got to discussing our continued state of uncertainty about our final events.  I just started jotting down some ideas in my little notebook, trying to think about what would be meaningful and sustainable, a concern that Lynnzie brought up in our meeting today.  

Maybe, we could set up everything we have so far in the fishbowl or some other space and invite Sonia and Lily (and maybe Cecilia too and anyone else who wants to talk about these things).  I’d like to invite some of the administrators as well, like Steve Sears, Elena Yee, Rafael Zapata, Res Life people, and students from organizations that facilitate a lot of the “learning relationships” that go on outside of the classroom.  Taylor said she was thinking of something like a forum, which could be a good route to go, but it could be a larger discussion as well.  There should be time for people to get a look at the visual pieces we have assembled and then we can get down to business.  If a degree means four years spent at PC, what does that mean?  What kind of an education do students take with them?  Can we honestly say that we have created a supportive community here for everyone?  I’m not sure if those are the right questions, but I wanted to throw this out there.  It still sounds like institutional change or reform to me, but we need something to work off of.  We also need to reserve a space, date, and a time.  

Also, for Sonia and Lily, we can ask them to look at the pictures we have so far and pick the ones they like best, then give them captions/titles (maybe about learning?).  

Side note: These pics were taken while we were putting up the boards and at about 6:45pm.  Since then, they have received even MORE responses and I had to put out another board.  I am loving the enthusiasm!  

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Notes from the workshop

It’s hard to focus on the our thesis project when what is going on in Boston is so deeply unsettling.  I’m not so naive to ask “Why do they hate us?” (as Tom Wise criticized white Americans for saying post-9/11), but I just can’t comprehend what is going on.  What does it mean?  What is this a part of globally?  How are Americans going to react to this?  I fear the backlash.

As incomprehensible as events like these are, the minutes keep passing, the wind keeps blowing (we are in Providence, after all), and we have thesis projects to do.  Here are notes from our workshop in Capstone:

*positive creativity vs. price of education–Let’s get people thinking about the “education” we’re receiving.  Is it really worth $57,000 a year?  Are we just buying a really expensive piece of paper that has social meaning (indicating our privilege, perhaps), but nothing else?

*Sonia and Lily have not had higher education in the US.  What does a US education give you in terms of learning?  Are our degrees symbolic degrees or learning degrees?  A US degree is a social construction.  Let’s DECONSTRUCT it!

*Photovoice needs to become people telling stories about real learning.  So let’s ask people, what have I learned?  What do I want to learn more about?  Our photovoice needs to tell the story of education through the lived realities of others.

*There’s a separation between education and learning.  People choose their majors for the meaning of the degree rather than the learning they can achieve in it.

*International students (s/o to Corra: “Why don’t you ask ME?”) We can reach out to international students on campus and people in the places we studied abroad.

*Why do we think that learning/education (both, in this case) can only happen when you’re young?

*If learning comes from lived experiences, what kind of contrasts are there in the learning that Sonia and Lily have as opposed to the learning of PC students?

*prompts I was scribbling: What have you learned at PC?  Where do you learn?

*ironically, the classroom is the freest place on a PC campus.

Thanks for all the great feedback everyone!  I feel like we have a lot of great ways to move forward and I have my fingers crossed for photos from Lily and Sonia today.

Final Event Feedback

We didn’t get to talk about our final event at our workshop, but we would really like your bright minds and ideas!  Ready, GO!

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