Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Notes Towards Day 17 (Tues, Nov. 1): On Seeing for Ourselves.....


This Thursday,
we will be discussing three
important, upcoming out-of-class events-->
* our on-campus workshop
(Rhoads Dining Hall, 2-3:15, Fri, Nov. 11)
* our on-campus interviews (which you'll be conducting Fri, Nov. 11- Mon, Nov.14), &
* our upcoming visit from Parkway (classtime--and lunch right after--Tues, Nov. 15).

Let me know after class if you will have an (unavoidable!) conflict w/ the workshop.

We will also be having a Parkway "panel" on Thursday, which I'll moderate, featuring
the experiences of folks -- Jody & Alice, Jomaira & Sarah,  Sam & Samyuktha --
who have been working @ the school, and reflecting on what it means
to work "with" rather than "on" other people.

Your reading for Thursday, Eve Tuck's "Suspending Damage,"
has just been added to our password-protected file; please read it w/ our
work-and-conversations-w/ Parkway in mind, and come w/  questions for
our panelists about doing social science research.

A moment here to think-and-talk about interactive reading strategies:
not just highlighting, but marking while you read (what do you mark?),
writing on the text, making connections w/ experiences, other readings;
most importantly: asking questions of the text. You haven't read unless
written on/written back to the text.

5 p.m. Friday night (Nov. 4): writing assignment # 9,
3 pp. revising paper #8. Consider here both our original prompt--
to think about your image w/ the help of some of our readings--

and your response to Percy's advice on "seeing for yourself."
What's the relation between these two activities?
How can another writer/thinker/"expert" help you
in the believing and doubting that is academic work?

8 p.m. Sunday night: post TWICE in our on-line forum:
1) post a COMMENT in our "diablog" with Parkway students
2) also "post your thoughts" about our on-campus workshop
(more directed prompts forthcoming!)

II. picking up where we stopped, on Thursday, "complexifying class" @ Bryn Mawr:
images of us doing so!....and wonderful images from you all, making these questions
"spatial," "seeing (and saying) for yourself" what's happening here....
(disappointment that some of you didn't put your images up;
will review that process individually in writing=imaging conferences....)

the range of spaces that have "meaning" for us:
2 out-of-doors (both rhoads beach)
3 (indoor) public spaces
--the lusty cup
--campus center
2 dorms
--perry house
2 public spaces w/in dorms
--"the nook" (Denbigh 3rd floor)
--McBride lounge (Radnor basement)
4 dorm rooms

(cf. Jody's group??)
but did include very rich, thoughtful postings about
class, continuing our frank in-class "complexifying":

* At Bryn Mawr, our space is a symbol of its values and aspirations of its students.

* The condition of Perry house compared to other dorms on campus shows a certain apathy toward the residents of the house, which is informed by class structures, as blacks and Latinos have historically been representative of the lower classes.

* Bryn Mawr College is still quite classed in terms of the racial diversity of its population and the roles they perform on campus.

* After seeing my space through Freire's lens, I started to question my and Thomas's point of view. Privacy, according to Friere, may be a destructive force for co-constructive dialouge which is valuable in education .... the separation of the intellectual space from the domestion space indicates a detachment of academic world from real life .... most students at Bryn Mawr may still want to choose a single room [because] that the educational system values individual success rather than teamwork.

* Though most McBrides do not have a dorm room, we do have a place that is just ours, shared though it may be, and the ability to form a sort of family untit for each other.  This, to me, makes us space poor and space rich at once.

* My paper revolves around the spaces that M. Carey Thomas envisioned for the women of Bryn Mawr and how I reclaim and re-shape those spaces to fit my education  ... although I still feel a sense of disconnect because M. Carey plays a major role in Bryn Mawr’s history and so many of the women here look up to her. It’s difficult to say whether I will truly feel a whole sense of belonging to the Bryn Mawr community.

* every space has the potential to be place for learning and education. Outside spaces ... seem more accessible for learning than inside spaces, especially at Bryn Mawr with all of the grand, imposing buildings.

III. for today, we read Walker Percy's 1975 meditation
on “The Loss of the Creature”....

how can he help us move forward with such questions??

* here's what he says (use your reading strategies!):
jot down the most important lines in what he's saying;
call these out, & I'll write them up

* on believing and doubting what he says--
do this first in columns for yourself;
then write it (in silent conversation w/ him & each other) on the board

* naming what we are seeing/learning/believing/doubting

* how might Percy's discussion about "certifying experiences as
relate to our DiaBlog w/ Parkway about "certification"?

Sam Saludades: I agree that it is important for people to get certified for jobs….
degrees…can act as a good measurement for credibility

alesnick: When must a person be labeled as having met external,
communal standards of some kind?  Can certification ever be informal? 

what else might Percy offer us @ this point in the semester?
what might it mean for you to respond to his call to "see for yourself"?
what might that invitation do to your essay?
how much "sovereign knowing" is going on there?
how much deferral to experts?
how much "loss" of the thing itself?
how much fitting into a "preformed symbolic complex"
(of class, or education, or other abstractions?)

IV. go into Jody's class for writing groups @ 12:25
talk to each other (5 minutes apiece!) about what
you see as the analytic point of your papers:
here are the rules to make this efficient: the writer doesn't talk,
but really "receives" for 5 minutes, listening to and writing down
what is said about her work

Anne's reading notes on Percy:
his essay is sructured as a series of ancedotes/travel stories

* Cardenas's discovery of the Grand Canyon
* the sightseer who comes to view it later
* an American couple seeking an unspoiled place in Mexico
(and want an ethnologist friend to certify it as real)
* young man in France who also seeks the sanction of experts for his experiences
* New Mexican natives who discover artifacts on their own, not certified as genuine
* a neurotic who wants his symptom certifed "interesting" by his doctor
* a Faulkland Islander who discovers a dogfish

all parables, all metaphoric accounts of educational experience:
what it is, what it should be
Percy describes the difficulty of salvaging the "creature,"
the "thing itself," from the educational package:
the sonnet from the theory of the English prof,
the dogfish from the apparatus of the dissecting table
his key idea/value is the sovereignty of the knower

he insists that each of us, as students, must avoid what the philosopher
Alfred North Whitehead called "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness":
mistaking the abstract, theoretical, "preformed symbolic complex"
for the real, the specimen for the individual
we must beware handing our experence/knowledge over to the experts

Percy has a number of strategms for "avoiding the approved tour":
* leaving the beaten track
* returning "one level above" it, dialectically
* breaking the symbolic machinery (typhus outbreak!)
* national disaster
* popular art

in education, this usually takes the form of "the indirect
circumventing the educator's presentation w/
1) the openness of the thing before one
(not an approved exercise, but a beckoning garden), with
2) the student as a sovereign wayfarer (not a consumer of prepared experience)

Percy proposes an educational technique:
dogfishes in the poetry classes, sonnets on dissecting boards --
in order to return "title" to the knower,
to the "disinherited" consumer, the "ghost,"
"expertise" to the "layman"

Percy questions the presuppositions of Edmundson and Shorris
(some years ago, reading this essay induced a crisis for a 1st year McBride:
it reminded her why she'd stayed away from formal education: brainwashing!)
and we might/should have introduced him @ that point in the syllabus