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Notes Towards Day 19: Curricular Choice-Making

Anne Dalke's picture

Notes Towards Day 19 of Food for Thought

I. start w/ sharing:

what'd I miss on Thursday?
(do you want to plan another shared class?
shared final performances, maybe??)

how 'bout Kate Bornstein's visit?

what you missed @ SLSA:
Encoding to Decoding to Transformation
Coding for "Possibility Spaces"

story from last year's working group on "choices & constraints":
Michele Mancini on Choosing Our Limits

please take one of the things Andrea Zittel "knows for sure" and write a response

II.This exercise a transition, as we move
on now to the final (gasp!) section
of the course, on curricular choice-making:

bringing home exploration of eating habits,
scientific data-gathering, literary interpretation,
to questions about how we live our lives--
w/ a focus on what sort of education we need
to prepare ourselves to do so.
For the next
month, we'll be talking about curriculum design
as a multi-layered exercise in (a la Zittel) "living
in a set of limitations that we have created and
prescribed for ourselves."

This is a multi-step process, starting now w/ a conversation:
1) how did you decide on Bryn Mawr?
what "choice rubrics" did you use?
what were the dimensions of your choosing?

2) in hindsight (helped especially by what we
have been talking about here for the past 10 weeks)
what else might you have looked @?
what dimensions of choice would you encourage
prospective students to consider?

3) let's generate a (linked?) list on the board:
what are the dimensions that go into choosing a college?
what are the dimensions that (might? should?)
go into designing a curriculum?
what are the connections between them?

This week's writing assignment is to research one of these dimensions 
(economic? psychological? historical? global? ecological?
what are its qualities in space and time?), by finding
three web sources on your topic, and creating an annotated bibliography
(full citation, and one-paragraph summary of the argument of each source).

Then write a one-paragraph analysis of your findings:
What have you discovered from this initial investigation?
What questions does it raise for you?

Post your analysis, followed by your annotated bibliography,
in the appropriate forum (I'll create several!) by Monday, Nov. 16, @ 9 a.m.

It's going on-line because NEXT week,
you're going to write a collaborative 3-pp. analysis of Bryn Mawr's current curriculum in light of these findings (others as well as your own). The week after Thanksgiving, you'll write another 6-pp. paper (w/ the same collaborators) re-designing Bryn Mawr's curriculum both philosophically and pragmatically.

All this is another new experiement, a revision of last year's final project
on "ethical decision-making," which produced lots of h.s.-ish debate-papers;
we wanted to make this real. The curriculum committee is actually @ work
on this project now, and we want to give them some on-the-ground advice!

IV. So, turning back for a bit:
what was is like, writing a 6-pp. paper?

give yourselves credit!
paginate! (also: italicize!)
also: don't use cliches!

V. Today reading one of these papers,
thinking esp. about managing text @ this length/volume

read silently, writing answers to four groups of questions:

1) what's the thesis? how provocative is it?
what's the single most interesting idea in the paper?
what's its relation to the thesis?
2) how would you describe the structure of the paper?
what's the logic of its organization?
how dramatic/subtle/suspensefu/cleverly is it organized?
3) word choice and sentence structure:
does this essay "love language"?
(give an example yea or nay)
4) pizzazz: what's surprising/moving/
productive of further thinking here?
what does the essay add to what you already know?

VI. For today: asked you to play
Prisoner’s Dilemma
(a non-zero-sum game)

For Thursday, read classic 1968 essay on
"The Tragedy of the Commons" (zero-sum game) and
NYTimes report on "pulling the switch"

Post on-line before Thursday's class:
describe what happened when you played Prisoner's Dilemma--
and give an example of a "prisoner's dilemma" in your own life