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Mid-Semester Evaluation

Muni's picture

I love to play. Signing up for Emily Balch Seminars, the word “play” immediately caught my eye. My initial concerns about the class were that the play I’d encounter in the course wouldn’t be actual, fun play, and that the writing I would have to do would feel forced. Thankfully, the trips into Philadelphia that I’ve been on have felt genuinely fun and playful. I’ll admit, the writing sometimes does feel forced. I think part of it comes from a bit of confusion on exactly what the prompts are asking me to say. At first, the prompts seem vague and long, with somewhat of a disconnect between the multiple questions of each one. Only once I’ve written quite a bit have I discovered what I actually want to say. I think that that strategy is one I will end up utilizing a lot in writing throughout my life, and I like that the prompts with their vagueness have put me in a position where it is something I can practice. The class has also been helpful in sharpening my exploration skills. I’ve enjoyed seeing different types of neighborhoods combining to make the city into a whole. 

The city of our class,  “Play in the City” is made up of neighborhoods, in a few different ways. There are the two sections, each with a professor and an assortment of players and thinkers. During most of our class time, they’re separate entities, but in some discussions and in our trips to the city, they become one big class. The coming together and pulling apart give us more opportunities to hear different opinions. As separate sections, our conversations sometimes go in different directions, or focus more fully on different aspects of our trips. When we reconvene, it’s possible for us to encounter opinions we haven’t yet seen and perhaps even be convinced to look at a word from a new angle. 

One of the most playful qualities of this class is the lack of structure in the classroom. I really enjoy most of the class discussions within my section. The structure is formed as we discuss questions and see where that leads us in relation to the reading or our most recent trip into Philadelphia. I like that the things we talk about are guided by our interests, because it encourages genuine interest and honest contribution. My opinions in class are often formed pretty quickly, so I’m able to be open to the ideas of others. The lack of structure gives 

To go along with that, our first few essays were not jammed into a format, or given any type of structure at all. As we’ve written more, though, structure has become more essential and meaningful. Still, it’s structure determined by us, the writers, so that we can use it to our advantage. I like that the class has eased us into our own writing processes. I also appreciate that our papers are all so different despite being connected by a given week’s topic--it shows that the class and its topics allow us to bring ourselves into the subject matter. Our writing as a neighborhood is becoming more gentrified in a way as it becomes more structured. But unlike South street, it is keeping its original personality. Part of this comes from the meetings, which I find very helpful. It is nice to have guidance in pointing my writing in the direction I want it to go. 

As the course continues, I hope to continue the growth of my writing. My paper is structured in a way that mirrors the way my writing has grown throughout this course so far, beginning with the beginning of my experience of the class, and also the initial disorganized jumping around through topics that my first few papers were structured around. The second part of my writing here is related to the structure of a city made up of neighborhoods, and relates my experience of the city to my experience of the class.