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Mid Semester Evaluation

Frindle's picture

In many ways, this class is exactly what I’ve been hoping for since my days at an alternative elementary/middle school. At that school, we practiced being critical thinkers. To do this, we had a comfortable environment: we called teachers by their first names, had a lot of classroom discussions, and sat in circles so we could see each other’s faces. I’ve found that this class, Play in the City, is also set up to be a comfortable environment. Unfortunately, I still have lingering thoughts from high school running through my head, usually along the lines of Is this relevant? Will people care about what I have to say? and, of course, the ever present Is this a stupid question/remark/thought? I’ve been getting over that, though. I’ve become more comfortable talking in class, saying what I believe. Everyone in this class listens to what other people have to say, and there is usually a way to bring the comment into the discussion and build upon it.

In fact, that’s why I think of this class less as a city we’ve been playing in and more as a city that we’ve been building from the ground up. Each class is like building a different street. We have a solid blueprint: the general outline of the class. We have a foundation: the questions we’re asked at the beginning. We build onto the framework, making the buildings taller. Sometimes we spend a bit too long on one building, or one floor, and not enough on another. Sometimes we skip the thirteenth floor because we’re too scared to even go there. Sometimes we  look out a window we’ve made, see another building on a different street, and jump over to fix that one up a bit.

The one aspect of this class that I would change would be the amount of time I have to work on my essays. I find that my trips to Philly will inevitably take up a good chunk of my weekend, usually beginning in the morning and lasting until three or four o’ clock. When I do get back, I have homework and studying for my other classes, extracurriculars, and an essay to write for this class. I am a person who usually rushes into things before thinking it through, but I know that that approach does not work well when it comes to writing my essays. Because I’m writing about what happened to me in Philly that weekend and what conclusions I can draw from the experience, I cannot start the writing process until after I get back. Unless, of course, I think of an argument in advance and then try to find something in the city that will “fit” the argument –– something I’ve been decidedly attempting not to do. This leaves me with 32 hours to do the rest of my studies for the weekend, extracurriculars, and go through the entire writing process. And (hopefully) sleep.

In other classes where I have had to write essays, I usually received the prompt a week in advance. This allowed me to think over the questions posed, let them settle in my mind. By the time I sat down to write my essays a few days later, my argument had already formulated itself, and writing the rest of the essay was a fairly simple process. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible in this class. I understand that by writing my essays right away everything is still fresh in my mind. This is why I think our Sunday night postings should instead be a paragraph of something we experienced: something we feel we could write an essay about, but we’re not sure how we’re going to do that exactly. Our essays could be due on Wednesday by 5 PM, in time for class on Thursday. They will be better formed and have a more substantial argument.

I can see myself becoming a better critical thinker, speaker, and writer. Every time I sit down to write the process becomes more organic. I include things I’ve learned in conferences, and when I write them in it feels as though it is a natural progression, the next step on my way to being a better writer. I can only hope that I’ll have more time to work on my essays, and watch them grow with me.