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tflurry's picture

When I first walked into Play in the City, I was a decent high school-level essay writer. Over the course of the semester, I learned more. I picked up more tools, things like ‘lenses’ and ‘the believing game’ for my writing toolbox, and these are tools that I expect to be very useful over the years. I discovered new terms and theories with which to interact with the world around me, different types of play and luck, that may or may not affect my writing in the future, but gives me different ways to think about my experiences: I consider that even more valuable to come away from a class with. In the end, I believe that I have improved in a few ways in my writing over the semester: I think about my essays differently, and in doing so I write them differently: I think about things like lens and how best to frame the point I want to make, what best proves my point or what point best discusses what I want to examine. I recognize, however, that I still have a lot to learn: my essays are not always as focused as they would ideally be, and they often have an overabundance of one punctuation mark or another. I thank this course further for that, because it not only taught me, but gave me an idea where to go next.


I enjoyed participating in class: the readings, while sometimes difficult, were usually interesting, even fascinating: sometimes this because of the idea of what if I took their advice and followed it through in the world, like what happened with Flannigan's "Critical Play". Sometimes it was because the essay sparked a moment of 'wait a moment, you mean I'm not the only one who does that?', as with Sontag's "Against Interpretation". The conversations were interesting, too: I usually learned something new, whether about a person, a topic, an idea. It was always exciting to see what someone would say next, whether or not I agreed with them, whether or not they or I were the only person in the room who disagreed with the class.


I think that overall, in the classroom I assumed the role of the prod, and often the devil's advocate: I often nudged people, poking at their ideas from one direct or another until they could fend me off, and leaving them with a stronger idea for it. When I was not asking questions about other people's ideas, I often asked them about my own. One of the reasons I love playing devil's advocate is that you can not play the role if you are unwilling or unable to poke holes in your own beliefs. I think of it almost as the cynic's version of the believing game: you may or may not believe for what you are arguing at the beginning, but if you play your cards right, everyone, including yourself, will be convinced by the end. Outside the classroom, I tended to serve as one of three things: I was the tag along, the conversation partner, or the crew director. On one or two occasions, I would up going on a trip with two classmates who were good friends with each other. This left me third wheeling, unable to join the conversations and not asked to do so. Sometimes I was with a bunch of friends or acquaintances that, although perfectly nice, could not be bothered to plan ahead. On these occasions I served as crew director, making sure everyone was where they needed to be when they needed to be there. Finally, my favorite situation was when I was traveling with people who I knew, liked, and who could get where they needed to without direction. In those situations, I was a conversation partner, and it was lovely. I think, however, that I learned from all of these roles: these are useful life skills, and the tips and tricks I learned this year will be useful next time I need to arrange a group of people, or to not step in and take over.


I do not know who I learned the most from: that was the lovely thing about this class, we all learned from each other simultaneously. Nor, for that matter, do i know who I was most helpful to: there were some students I barely interacted with, and some I developed good friendships with, but there was no single person I recognized spending a lot of time helping, or who spent very long helping me. That said, I found the class work, the class discussions, very helpful: I loved the point of view exercise after the trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary, because it was very interesting to see everyone's opinions so clearly written. I liked the concept behind the small groups of classmates responding to our writing as well, although I did not find those as helpful as I would like. I learned a lot during the class discussions, and I think that those helped me the most.


Overall, I am very glad that I took this course, and pleased that I can walk away from this new semester with all of this in my new toolbox.