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

Refracting: My Self-Evaluation

mturer's picture

It's no secret that I had a strange semester this fall. It started out mostly normal, and just as I was getting used to my new schedule, everything changed. I missed a ton of class to the point at which I wasn't even really sure how to make up for it in the long run. I ended up spending the rest of my semester mostly alone, fluctuating between having too much work to see friends and not feeling well enough to do my work. I think this class more than my others was affected by that.

I am a usually introverted person, but when removed, as I was this semester, from social interaction for a long time I tend to get quieter and more apprehensive to participate in discussions. Seeing as this class was a mostly discussion-based class, this was not a good semester to have experienced this. The bare minimum that I ended up successfully accomplishing in all of my classes was really, in retrospect, not enough for this class. The sensation of participating in an out of class online discussion while not having too many out of class real discussions of my own was incredibly offputting and I realize I probably should not take a class like this under these conditions again as I had the constant sensation of feeling inadequate in my level of contribution but not feeling like I knew how to contribute at all, so I didn't contribute more. I guess I would like to say that ever posting at all and especially making comments on others' work was a big step outside my comfort zone in itself this semester, and I think that doing so was a good exercise for me.

That being said, I am very glad I was able to learn the things I did. Looking over my work I realized that my attitude toward the environment changed drastically this semester. I went from having a very pastoral view of the world after coming out of a summer of playing with marine animals to being kind of cynical and dwelling on things like invasive species and big human-related environmental problems. I chose my banner image because I think it is a pretty good visual representation of the feeling I get while reading over my posts: appreciative of the natural world, yet rather bleak at the same time. Maybe that's why I liked Rachel Carson while nobody else really did.

Also, this change in my attitude clearly shows the fact that I paid a lot of attention to our readings. I knew this already, but the level of influence I see from the readings in my posts is surprising considering I was such an advocate for replacing them with field trips and activities. Something I found I was uncomfortable about regarding the reading was that, a lot of the time, I found myself holding the unpopular opinion or simply disagreeing entirely with the way my classmates chose to take the discussion. In reaction to this I would usually keep quiet. I probably should not have kept quiet, but at the same time, if I hadn't, we would have gotten a lot less done.