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

request for advice

Anne Dalke's picture

Mark and I are thinking that our next two trips will be, respectively, to a prison and to a museum.
We would like some guidance from you all in planning these two jaunts, as well as the one thereafter:
* do you want to go as one large group to the same space?
* would you prefer to self-organize (to visit some sites we will select, and others which you'll select)?
* what are the advantages/disadvantages of each of these arrangements?

Please post your response as a "comment" --not just a vote, but an explanation of why you think so--before classtime on Thursday--and thanks!



tflurry's picture


Small or large groups are equally nice, because they offer different advantages and disadvantages. Small groups are easier to organize, and reduce the sudden influx of people into any given place. Larger groups are cool because they offer more view points, and more security. I argue for a mix of the two methods over the rest of the semester.

Regarding destinations, again there are good and bad points to the students or professors choosing. I agree that the professors have the greatest knowledge of the city outside of the students who grew up around here, and tha they might know best were would be interesting to go. That said, it is useful to get the hang of planning a group outing. I would rather have the professors determine where to go, or perhaps provide a selection to choose from, but the students should figure out how to get there. 

playcity23's picture

My Two Cents

I wouldn't mind going to the Eastern State Prison in a large group, because I've never been to a prison before and safety in numbers (just in case an ex-innmate tries to kill me or something). As for the other trips, I would prefer to self organize and go in our small groups. I like the feeling of independence and going in big groups all the time makes me feel like I'm back in high school again (God forbid). Advantages for this proposal include increased mobility, ability to make closer friendship bonds with the people we're with, and we can use our time more effectively by deciding things faster. Disadvantages include increased risk of getting harrassed by people we don't go near, and increased confusion because almost everyone in our Esem is not from Philly. 

Phoenix's picture


I enjoy being given a place to go, since Mark and Anne know the best places to go, and that means we only have to coordinate time and not also activity. I enjoy going both in large groups and small groups.

I would like to visit the Philadelphia Zoo, though, so if that means I have to go alone or with just one or two other people, I'll do that.

mmanzone's picture

I like being told what is

I like being told what is worth seeing in the city but I also prefer being able to decide when to go and who to go with.  That being said, I don't really have a preference either way.  I feel that being told where to go forces us to go to places in the city that we might not normally go to but allowing us to select where we go means we might enjoy it more.  I think that the ideal way of going about it would be a combination of both: we are given suggestions and we get to form groups select a place and time to go. This would mean that we would all have similar experiences that would allow us to relate to eachother but we could schedule our own trip which would help avoid conflicts.

nightowl's picture


I would prefer we went into to the city in seperate groups so that we can work around conflicting schedules. This also provides more unique experience across the class, as we won't all be going to the same places at the same time of day. An advantage of us all going togther is that we will share the experience as a class, and the chances of someone gettting lost are slim.

I would prefer to visit sites Mark and Anne have selected and sites we have selected. Since they know the city well they have interesting ideas about where to go like an old prison and The Magic Gardens, but I also like the chance to tailor some of my experience in the city to mine and other's people interests. The later seems more exploritive and opens up more chances for serendipity in terms of getting lost for fun and finding people with simular interests in the class.  

nightowl's picture


Also as a side thought, I feel like we have been doing mostly touristry things in the city. It might be interesting to do something that would bend the rules of the city more like doing interviews, playing an instrument in the streets, chalk art on sidewalks, or protesting something.

Claire Romaine's picture

As someone who has a nuber of

As someone who has a nuber of conflicts on any given weekend, I think it is much more affective and efficient to go in smaller groups.  Organizing one large party most likely lead to conflict and an inability to satisfy everybody's requirements.  Large groups also tend to be cumbersome particularly when maneuvering through crowded city streets.  Also one large group means that everyone ends up going to the exact same places and experiencing the exact same things.  Small groups would definitely increase the diversity of experience and might lead to more varied discussion in class.

Muni's picture


* do you want to go as one large group to the same space?

I would prefer to go in smaller groups. While it might mean that we don't get to know as many people in the two sections, I think it's much more practical, since extracurriculars are starting to pick up, and it gives us more freedom to plan around our other interests.

* would you prefer to self-organize (to visit some sites we will select, and others which you'll select)?

I've really enjoyed the locations that you've selected so far, and I've also enjoyed being given the freedom to explore by ourselves. I think a combination of the two is definitely the way to go. That way we'll see a wider variety of things, as well, because the trips we plan will probably be different from the ones you plan.

* what are the advantages/disadvantages of each of these arrangements?

The only real disadvantage to smaller groups, again, is not meeting as many people. It does give us more options in terms of planning around other things we want to do, though.

Trips planned by you might not be as relevant to our interests, which could make it easy for us to get bored, or could pique our interest in a new subject or find a way to relate it to something we wouldn't expect. I think the tradeoff is worth it. Trips planned by us might not be as organized, and that could be either a good or bad thing.

Clairity's picture

* do you want to go as one

* do you want to go as one large group to the same space?

I don't mind going as a large group. But it will be very hard to arrange a time that can work for all of us.

* would you prefer to self-organize (to visit some sites we will select, and others which you'll select)? 

I'd like to visit the sites you select for us. I'm sure the places you recommend us to visit will be great experiences for us. And I also hope we can have some opportunities to choose on our own.  It will be good to have a balance to do both. 

* what are the advantages/disadvantages of each of these arrangements?

Large group: same experience, more organized. But less efficient and hard to settle a time

small group: easy to settle time and place, more efficient. 

pbernal's picture


I'd prefer if we go on trips into smaller groups, rather than large groups combining both classes. It'd be fine to mix both groups and ultimately create one small group to travel into our destination but one large group I personally feel is too distracting. Having tried both, the smaller groups and larger group in the beginnng, I can take in more of an experience with less people. It also makes for better interaction within  the group and adds to the trip experience. A possible disadvantage could be wanting to travel with the same group of people because we've grown comfortable, but in that case we should switch up the groups we travel into the city every once in a while. 

I'd prefer self-organization because I know what would interest me, but I don't feel quite ready to take on the decision upon my self to fully declare where to go. And so, a combination of both, having to choose some destinations and other trips being declared by both professors would be great. It doesn't hurt to look into places you'd never thought of going, like the prison, which although never came into mind as a trip, it's definitely something I'm now curious about. A big advantage to this would be open to different possibilities and a possible disadvantage would be that if we just went accordingly to what the professors chose, we wouldn't take full appreciation of some of the trips because to some people it wouldn't interest them. 

Everglade's picture

Going as a large group or

Going as a large group or assigned small group allows us to get to know each other. If we are to decide by our own, we tend to stick with familiar people. It also depends on place: the prison is a place that interests me very much and being alone might give me a better experience of terror, and also I would take a lot of pictures there and would probably slow others down; for the museum, going in a group would be much more fun.

I prefer self-scheduled trip as to avoid schedule conflicts.

Frindle's picture

I would prefer to go in

I would prefer to go in smaller groups. I think when we go in smaller groups we are allowed to spend more time in each area that interests us (for example, this would come into play at the museum trip: some of us may want to spend more time there, others less). It also allows us to have a more intimate feel for the space we are in, it feels more authentic.

I have enjoyed the things that have been preplanned, and I think that they give us a chance to see things we wouldn't normally think to look up (like the Quiet Volume) or things that might seem too complicated (like the penitentiary). However, I do think that we need the chance to do some trips on our own, that we have planned ourselves –– it makes us responsible for where we go and how we'll get there, which is something we need to be able to do ourselves.

Taylor Milne's picture

Opinion on Travel

Although traveling in large groups can be fun, I believe that the most practical and explorative option is to allow us to self-organize our trips into Philadelphia. Now that we have all settled into our lives at Bryn Mawr, the majority of us have taken on various responsibilities beyond our classes, which make it hard to find a time when all thirty of us could go together without people having conflicts. The disadvantages of not going in as a whole group are that we do not have the guidance of Mark and Ann, but I my opinion is that the advantages of traveling in smaller groups far outweighs the disadvantages. I believe that by allowing us to travel in smaller groups we are much more open to the serendipity of the city, because we will be more likely to explore beyond our assigned location. Also by allowing us to self-organize we are going to be happier in finding a time that works best for anyone so that no one has to miss their other obligations. 

pialikesowls's picture

I'd like to continue

I'd like to continue self-planning trips. A definite pro of this is that people are able to go do their own thing like rehearsal and meetings while still being able to have a flexible time for the trip. Chances are, at least one other person has the same schedule and time space. One con might be the experience sometimes not being as great as it could be since we aren't all together, although I'm not too entirely sure how this would affect the trip overall. In addition, a con of not going as a giant group would be the lack of guidance from both Anne and Mark, in terms of direction. However, I do enjoy going in a smaller group as this allows more exploration and play.

ecohn's picture

My opinions and justifications

* do you want to go as one large group to the same space?

      I much prefer when we are allowed to organize ourselves in smaller groups and plan the specific times for our trips, rather than all having to go at the same time. I have taken on many clubs, two of which are performing arts clubs, which have rehearsals on the weekends, so being able to plan the times for my specific trip makes my life much easier. 

* would you prefer to self-organize (to visit some sites we will select, and others which you'll select)? 

     Exploring the city is very nice. So far, I've appreciated the activities you've given us to do (The Quiet Volume and Isaiah Zagar's Magic Gardens), so I am totally fine visiting more sites that you select. But it is also really nice to explore on our own and find new things and experiences. 

* what are the advantages/disadvantages of each of these arrangements?

     With the self-scheduled trips, our weekends are much more free for rehearsals, meetings, practices...etc. It leaves us with a lot more independence in terms of scheduling our own time and making sure we get the most out of each experience. 

     By allowing us to plan where we visit for ourselves, you allow us to feel more invested in the trips. It is easy to, as a "rebellious teen", not care about something solely for the reason that we "have" to do it. By allowing us to explore what interests us, we are able to avoid these feelings of apathy. However, by telling us where to go for some of the trips, you also provide us with a more diverse range of activities, thus further helping our exploration.