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Utitofon's blog

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Classed Memories

Wow. Was i amazed? More than. I loved the various presentation formats of all the other groups.  Chandrea has already summarized our group objective. I based my slam/speech whatever it was, on the phrases that stuck with me throughout the class - words i will still remember a year from now.


Time-poor versus money-poor

Rich shame versus poor shame

Room size versus pocket size

class - bridge - divide

The questions at the end were meant to provoke thought, especially the 'Can we really bridge the class divide?'. I asked the question in the hope that our conversation does not end up as 3 months of academic noise and freshman memories, but as something more concrete - that changes the face of class at Bryn Mawr.

This was an extra class in its own right and a unique learning experience for me. The piece on space made me remember the discussion we had on ownership. I remember how i moved from answering that i could claim full ownership of my dorm room to doubting myself, when someone pointed out the issues involved in claiming a space you share?

I noticed that in the creative assignment, some students came out and identified with their class. It was therefore interesting to me when Chandrea said after the performance that she might as well flaunt hers. It was a 'go girl' moment for me.  And for 5 minutes I enjoyed the thrill of changing class with the wheel game. I could go on and on, but there's other stuff to do.


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A hoot for fairness

After 3 months of discussing class and education, i developed an 8th sense - class sense. This video is an attempt to call us in on some causes of class divide here at Bryn Mawr. It is a declassified paper, so dont expect certain formalities to be observed. Enjoy, criticize, comment and most important act. I must acknowledge my roomate for her moral support and for being Oota.

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The flaws of academic writing

I feel that formal writing obstructs the free flow of emotion and makes academic robots of us all. As students, it forces us to focus less on how convinced we are of our ideas, but on the impression it will make on our readers. Formal writing glorifies abstract thought; it appears classy to sound complex and demeaning to speak simply.  The more high sounding and philosophical we get, the more our audience takes our words seriously. We can see this in the reactions of our class to the writings Dewey in comparison to Williams. Yet not everyone can understand or relate to abstract generalizations, so formal writing selects its audience and leaves the lay ones in the cold. Academic writing is indifferent to the varied backgrounds of its potential readers.  In some respects, academic writing can be viewed as an egotistical attempt to leave your reader feeling awed by you. It is rarely a conversation, but a lecture.

Academic writing in a sense robs us of intellectual ownership, we lose authority as Percy asserted, because we have to back up our thoughts with sources.  The message is that we don’t have a right to think for ourselves, we have to think through the eyes of the ‘experts’, and consciously adjust our point of view to fit in with theirs. It perpetuates the idea that there is a group of knowers and that the rest of us, the ‘know not’s cannot go off on our own tangent. No, our ideas have to be validated by the opinions of others. Yet, who says the experts are infallible?

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Writing Paper 10

This paper turned out to be really difficult for me. Conducting the interviews was fun. I had all my data, but i hit a roadblock when it came to turning the data into a 3 page paper. I did not want to repeat myself, since i had already touched on the subject in my two previous papers and my confusion heightened when after my conference, I still had a hazy idea of what line of argument to pursue. Its like having too many options only served to hinder my progress. I managed to put something down, but I do not feel quite satisfied with it, especially with my conclusion. I really felt the pressure to use an extra page.  Any way, it appreciate the challenge of chanelling qualitative information into academic writing. There is always  a first time. Next time i can tap from this experience.

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Post workshop thoughts

The workshop was a success. I was impressed by the turnout. From the first analysis of the images, it struck me how my group members and i, despite being of different ages and coming from different racial, economic and educational backgrounds all shared close and sometimes identical views on issues of class. We all gravitated towards using appearance, comportment, and environment as physical markers to classify our subjects.

I felt ratified to see that many people were bothered about the inequality in the pay scale for student's working with dining services in comparison to those working with other departments on campus. I appreciated the different perspertives on the issue of ownership, especially the conflict between claiming a space as mine and having to share it with a roomate or classmates etc.

I second the motion to expand the conversation to include the entire school community, possibly even making it a part of the wellness seminar. I felt proud to be a member of In Class/Out Classed.

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The imbalance in our shared space

I chose this image because the Campus Centre was my first stop at Bryn Mawr and the events of my first day within that space affected my expectations of how my experience at Bryn Mawr would unfold.  In my paper, I discussed how the current admission status of international students creates a racial imbalance within our shared space. This inequality depletes the amount of cultural capital available to us as an institution and within the classroom. As a natural consequence, we experience more clumping than integration. In addition, there is a dichotomy in the makeup of faculty in comparison to the dining services and housekeeping staff. This situation traces back to what obtained in Bryn Mawr’s early years. Therefore, Bryn Mawr College is still quite classed in terms of the racial diversity of its population and the roles they perform on campus. I concluded by indicating that though we have made progress from what obtained 40 years ago, there is much room for improvement.

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Counting down to the high school

I have so many expectations. I wanna see what an American public high school looks like. I would love to discuss their curriculum, pedagogy, teacher student relationship, challenges and views on the SAT testing, which i enjoyed proctoring and tutoring kids for.

I will also ask them about the situation on drugs, crime, dropping out etc in their school and since they are predominantly black, the relationship between black and white kids in the school and neighborhood. If I feel like it, I might seek their views on the use of the word we discussed in class last Tuesday.

I will describe a typical Nigerian public high school to them, contrasting the differences and noting the similarities if any. I would appreciate their thoughts on the issue of equal educational opportunities and then  share my access story with them.

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Does Education Level the playing field?

 Yes and No. Education does a good job of preparing youths, rich or poor, for adult life, especially the work phase of it. Education instills a ‘can do’ attitude in us, persuading us to step out of our comfort zone and explore the unknown. For example , through our Emily Balch Seminars, most of us have read, discussed and critically analyzed literary works we would ordinarily have assumed were beyond our comprehension.  We have also developed better self expression, confidence and an expanded view on issues. Education also provides us with free social capital – our classmates and professors. If we fuel those relationships, they can come in handy later in life, such as when we need recommendations for internships or employment. The educational curriculum also makes room for constructive criticism. This helps to refine us into better individuals, and if we learn from our mistakes and corrections, they can prevent us from remaining in a constant phase of trial and error.  We can easily transfer our 3 page paper writing skills into writing business proposals. We can move from making presentations  to our classmates to making presentations at Board meetings; from blogging on moodle or serendip to maintaining a web presence for our businesses or companies; from analyzing data to auditing accounts or conducting market surveys.

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Mfon's reflection on access to education

“However,  I strongly believe that the access that counts is access to formal education – education that makes waves. This occurs in the classroom and attaches a respectable title to your name and function, in addition to a higher pay check. It can make the difference between your wearing a blue or white collar. It takes you places, making you relevant beyond your immediate community. With it you don’t plead, you negotiate. It empowers you to play the game of life more successfully. Yes, to survive in today’s society an individual needs the platform of formal education to discover, harness and achieve his or her full potential. There is only so much that common sense or experience gained from daily life can do for you. To be a beauty queen, you must answer the questions you are asked intelligently, without stumbling over words or groping for them. If you cannot read, analyze data, and express yourself clearly and persuasively, you will be used, abused and recycled.  Common sense is never enough.”

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Mfon's Education Map

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