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Mid-semester evaluation

Yancy's picture

When I saw this topic ‘play in the city’ for the first time, actually I thought it was ironic. The word ‘play’ seemed to be irrelevant, even opposite to a course topic. The definition of ‘play’, in my mind, is just activity which people choose to get happiness and easiness. In the readings we read in this class, almost every writer has her own definition of ‘play’, and because of this, the topic becomes deeper and complicated to study. I receive those definitions although sometimes I did not accept them, and because the help of our trips to Philly, I can try to understand them. The course is like an un-known city, such as Philly, having various aspects to explore and surprising me often.

There are 14 students from different places of the world in this course, and the ideas of us mixed together by communicating with each other in small writing team and in the whole-class conference. Difference between culture backgrounds reflects in those discussions. American students may feel unfamiliar with the meaning of ‘Mid-Autumn Festival’ for Chinese students, and Chinese students may feel curious about the lifestyles writing in essays by American students. I attach the new things every time, feeling surprised and interested, and the familiar feeling also appears when I walk in Philly. The city and the course both are un-known and sometimes, out of control because although I decide what should I do when I have the trip in Philly or I understand what will happen in next week’s class by the schedule on the website, the serendipity makes the process different from the one in my mind. An accidental sentence may open my mind and refresh my stereotypes or some old arguments, and a rain may change my schedule in the city and I find a more interesting place to stay when I avoiding the rain. Also, the articles I read in this course, as I mentioned before, provide me more possibilities of this topic. Critical play, a book written by Mary Flanagan, showing different definitions of play, confused me in the beginning because although she provided some examples to explain, I could not understand all the points she mentioned. The changing point is my trip to Philly. I explore the city the whole afternoon and find my own examples to explain her definitions. I think this is very important because the experience turns the arguments on the paper to real things in my memory and it can deepen the impression and help me understand more. Theories sometimes seem to be pale and easy to forget, but if I can combine the real experience and the theories, it will make my experience more meaningful and the theories more clear.

Sometimes the experience is not enough, and the professors play their roles at this moment. Anne can control the course in the direction it should be, preventing it from running so far. I think the conference every two weeks helps me a lot. I can talk the problems I meet and share my daily experience with her. She tries to help me follow the course and the life in the college. I admitted that I felt boring and inpatient when we started to learn something about the mosaic, and I did not understand why we spent much time to do our own mosaic. The confusion did not disappear even after going to the mosaic park in Philly. Then in the conference, Anne explained our goal by the photos I took in the park. I like this kind of conference because I am not actually used to raising my questions or expressing my arguments in front of the whole class although I am trying to. She is like the local person in the city, walking nearby and willing to provide help to the new people at any time.

Half time of this semester is passing away, and in the left time, we will continue to explore the city and the relationship between play and city. I hope we can have the trip in the small groups which decide by our own because everyone has her own interest and time schedule. Small groups are more flexible. Also, I like the small writing group very much and hope to have more in the future because I feel more relaxed in the group and the small group gives more chances to communicate because if we talk in the whole class, someone speaks too much, others may have not enough time to talk, but in the small group, discussions in groups happen together, more people will have chance to talk.