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Sun. night post: 360 mid-semester feedback!

jccohen's picture

Dear 360 folks,

Please take some time to offer mid-semester feedback on our 360.  What's engaging, stretching, and otherwise working well for you in our work (and play) together?  What are your suggestions for the second half - what would you like us to do more or less or differently?  As you reflect, consider your own and others' roles in our group dynamics, shared materials and projects, activities in and beyond the classroom...  And thank you!

Please respond as a comment to this post.

We look forward to discussing this on Monday evening at 5:30 pm in the Dorothy Vernon Room (with meal tickets as needed).  See you then!



kregensburg's picture

Working well-


I think our readings have led to some really productive and insightful in class discussions. While I am not personally like everything we’ve read I can see how they fit into our classes and see the value in reflecting on them in our discussions. I appreciate having the papers as a well of combining our readings with our often rambling and exploratory conversations in class. I think the papers are the way I stretch myself the most and often find myself spending a lot of mental energy on them (in a good way- the way you do when you are engaged!). I keep mentioning our discussions in class in passing so I’ll address it in full. I think we find ourselves on different levels of thinking than when we started out talking and I like going along for the ride. The way the professors facilitate discussion is one way we are able to really make sense of and complicate the ideas we’re talking about.


Working a little less well-


I feel the need to preface this by saying these are my own observations about our classes and at the time of posting I can’t see other comments so I’m not able to frame it as others will do. The other side of discussions in class is that sometimes we get caught up in a kinda yes men situation where because so many of us are on the same page that we fail to consider that there is another side. Obviously, this happens a lot in our self selecting bi-co community but hopefully we can try and break that. We saw a bit of this in the articles Joel posted about the roots of the rise in incarceration of black males. On Monday’s class we spoke about Alexander’s points in her book and I don’t believe if anyone brought up whether or not they believed in her thesis or support. We all accepted it as fact and discussed it from there. Now this is not me saying that the New Jim Crow is wrong or anything like that but simply that we may not be examining issues on all sides and instead playing to the ones we assume people agree with. I think especially in an political science class there is so much room to have competing theories. I think this goes back to the conversation we were having in Jody’s class where we have gotten into a comfortable groove in our discussions and that we have lost some of the complications and candidness.

On a work level note for the most part I find the readings and writings to be about normal. One thing I am not as fond of are the postings. I find myself scrambling to pull something out that is worth writing up. Having a deadline for posting each week I feel is limiting and I do not feel the same about of creative thought as I do when I post voluntarily about a connection I saw or what have you. I understand their usefulness for class but it was just my personal observation about how I feel.

One other note about work. I found my experimental essay as a really useful way to dive into our materials. I’ve done experimental essays before and I usually appreciate having to stretch myself and really pin down where I want to go. So I am all for experimental essays. What I am a little less for is the presentation of them in class. I do not feel I get as much out of reading and critiquing my fellow classmates works as I do actually writing my own essays. A lot of the essays have had some interesting topics but I am not certain they have impacted my personal learning as much. This might just be a personal quirk of wanting to wrestle with an idea on my own then have it complicated in revision. I can see how some people have used the class time to work out their ideas in a productive fashion but often I would love to talk about the readings we’ve done for longer. I feel like I am less engaged in the readings in Joel’s class because I spend a lot of time examining them from our classmate’s lenses of the readings in their papers.  


Group dynamics-


It struck me as odd the other day about how we have guidelines for our groups in the prison and not for ourselves. One of the best guidelines I’ve ever heard and will always bring up is; assume good will. I put this on our prison guidelines and I want to throw it out for our own guidelines moving forward. A lot of times I have felt that because so many people feel so passionately that when someone says something “out of line” or confusing we may not be extending compassion as listeners. I do not want to pointing fingers and want to be clear this is not coming from some chip on my shoulder, I have taken part in the whole blood in the water mentality myself, but I think that we can all work together to be better listeners and better learners. None of us are ever finished with these endeavours but I hope our 360 could be a place for us to grow towards that. Another clarification note, I am not saying that we should not educate people about hurtful and harmful statements, but I think simple communication misunderstandings happen more than we give notice of and that is why assuming good will is so important. If we are able to extend the ideas of complex personhood to the women inside, I think we can introduce that into our own interactions with one another.



Gosh, it really seems like I have a fair amount of feelings and negative comments. On a positive note, I would like to state that I really do enjoy the work we are doing in our 360 and that the professors have been overwhelmingly supportive. I have been awed by statements made by my fellow classmates and have felt your insightful comments have helped pulled me up to a higher level of thinking. I am excited and hopeful for the second half of our time together.

smalina's picture

What’s Working: 

I’m really loving class discussions—in all three classes. I so often find myself frustrated in humanities classes by the loftiness of our ideas and discussions, but by nature of having a praxis element to our 360, I’m finding constant connections and opportunities for grounding theory in reality. Over the course of the semester, we have definitely improved in our ability to smoothly integrate these elements into discussion, referencing theory when we first bring out the readings and bringing it back to field trips or prison trips when appropriate/applicable.

The experimental essay idea worked well for me—I loved having the chance to work through an idea with the entire class, and felt like it was truly a group effort to produce the thoughts and ideas that I did. I’m not sure if this was initially meant to be so collaborative, but I’m certainly grateful that it was driven in this direction by the class. I also find that the essay styles employed by Jody and Anne function similarly in their nontraditional nature, and the lack of guidelines has so far proven to be quite effective for me. I love having the freedom to pull in personal experience and other forms of media in order to make my point—which so often extends beyond the academic language we are trained to use at college.

I’ve found all of the readings to be useful, even when I have not personally found them interesting. Though the readings from Joel’s class are not my typical style, engaging with them is a nice way to challenge myself, and I appreciate the historical grounding that I do not often get in classes focused around modern theory.

I'm also really appreciating the time we spend at the end of each prison visit just standing in a circle and reflecting. It can be so jarring to reenter the outside world, especially straight into the social events of the weekend, and this reflection time is much needed. 

What Could Work Better:

What’s standing out in my mind right now is the research project—and I know this will become much more clear after spending time in Anne’s class to work as a group and individually. I’m excited to move in an artistic direction (my brain works much better this way), but I’m struggling to figure out how to get there, or even really how to research what feels like a broad topic without any named end goal in mind. I’m not sure how this comment helps in an evaluative way, because I don’t think there is a better way for the professors to lead such a barrier-free, fluid project. I expect that this week will shed some light on the subject.

I really love our class dynamic a lot of the time, but also think, in light of the conversation we had in Jody’s class on Thursday, that we should continue to work on it. Like Kieres, I feel like we sometimes entirely ignore dissenting opinions, and I worry that people might not feel comfortable bringing them up at all. We have developed a strong sense of solidarity (at least in my mind) when we leave campus, but we need to push back on this in class and feel more willing to take in other opinions both in and out of class. I love the idea of spending time together further removed from an academic setting, and want to continue to talk about the idea of complex personhood that we are so fortunate to get to explore in a cluster of courses where we spend so much time together. 

Shirah Kraus's picture

Going inside and Group Dynamics

Going "inside" has become a meaningful, exciting, and relaxing part of my week. I was in the very first planning group and I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous, not about the people inside but about the lesson plan. I feel a lot more comfortable and confident now and I love how I learn so much. But also, I just love the conversations we have. I love talking about Planned Parenthood and the Pope and other issues that are important and interesting to me and to the people in our group. I also like that I get to share this experience with my peers. Driving in the van, waiting for the train, catching lunch before class--I have gotten to know many of the 360ers more deeply. Similar to the prison experience, I value these experiences and relationships. Like we discussed in Jody's class, I would like to see our in-class discussions move from this "academic role-playing," to a more authentic, open, and casual (in some ways) conversation. I want to stop myself from waiting for people to "mess up," and encourage myself to explore ideas and thoughts that might be challenging. I like Kieres's idea of using guidelines in our classes like we do in the prison. I also think it would help for us to get to know each other better (especially mixing up friday and thursday people). I would totally be down to organize a chill party or something like that.

Readings and other assignments

I love when we read or discuss something that sticks with us throughout the semester (Citizen/citizenship and damage-based/desire-based thinking come to mind). I also find it so cool and valuable to learn and discuss things that stick with me outside of class and I get excited to share with my friends. For example, I had a great conversation about silence with first-year in Anne's ESEM. In one of our readings about teaching in prison, the author wrote that shorter readings tended to be more effective. Sometimes I feel like that is very true. I struggle to keep up with really long readings. I do really enjoy videos and songs (I listend to "The Sound of Silence" a billion times and then got really into Simon & Garfunkle, so thanks for that). I also really like writing posts; I find it a great way to reflect and it doesn't feel forced. I almost always have something to say. Shaping the silence is awesome and fun; I really enjoyed the ASL activity this past week. I think we could learn from these silences for our experimental essays. I struggle to stay engaged with two hours of discussing essays and I would love to do more "experimental" activities or discussions where we can get up and move around, do art, or engage in some music. I have liked most of the Education readings and found them reasonable in length. I think our discussions have been exciting and interesting and I love the different kinds of discussions we do (similar to English). Sometimes I feel a little bit tired by English (just the time of day and coming right after Education), so I think I struggle to engage with some of our discussions. I thought it was pretty cool when we had class without a professor (even though you all are great). I also enjoy having class outside.

Moving Forward

Looking back at some of the things I would change, I think what would be helpful for me and my learning are deeper conversations and continued varied learning activities. I learn a lot through movement, sounds, and images paired with thought-provoking conversations and I sometimes struggle to stay engaged in discussion for three hours (even with a break). Also, a party or something could be fun for the students to get to know each other.

meerajay's picture

mid-semester feedback

Working well-

Earlier in the semester, I remember thinking about what makes these courses so different from some of the others I have taken. One is the method of learning; in some of my other classes in the past, I have found myself having brief epiphanies, moments of realization that come and go in a flash. I would compare the classes in this 360 to slow-moving magma underneath the surface of my understanding. It is carving in profound changes, but very slowly. There are moments of epiphany, but they come after long periods of reflection and discussion. I have really enjoyed the discussions in class; the way that the professors guide class discussions has been really meaningful for me. Not raising hands has actually been working very well for me, and I have gotten used to it (I keep forgetting to raise my hand in my fourth class!) I find the natural flow of discussion that not raising hands creates productive, and can easily find space in the conversation to contribute.

I also get a lot from the vast amounts of reflection and writing online that we do. It has become a space where I can take risks more easily than I do in class. I definitely need the reflection after the prison visit as it can be emotionally draining even as it is positive, and, as Sula mentioned, strange to reenter the outside world and weekend social life. The reflections are grounding for me, and allow us to marry theory and practice, especially through the posts and class discussions.

I really enjoy having outside stimulation in and outside of class. Everything from going to see Antigone to the ASL activity in Anne’s class to the field trip to Philly to see the mural arts tour and Eastern Sate-they provide opportunities to see our 360 through other people’s eyes and have been thought provoking. I hope we keep doing things like that.

I am finding Joel’s class a little more challenging, because I have never taken a political science course before and was not sure how exactly to do the writing. I have mixed feelings about the readings for that class, but they get much more interesting after we discuss them in class. I think I missed the point on the experimental essays on my first one, though, and I want to think a little more creatively on my next one, emphasizing the “experimental” part. I enjoy sharing ideas and experimental essays in class; it can be nerve-wracking being vulnerable that way, allowing people to read and give feedback on your writing, but I believe we’ve all become more compassionate through it; both to ourselves and to others. I also wonder, though, if we could set aside some time to just discuss the readings, not through reading an experimental essay. Sometimes I have points of discussion that I really want to break down with the class and hear other people’s opinion on, but I don’t get the chance to talk about it because we’re doing experimental essays.

Constructive criticisms-

I would appreciate more feedback on the posts. I am someone who stresses about making things perfect and because there doesn’t seem to be a word count guideline on the posts, I keep wondering if I should write more or less. I think I would like to know exactly how I’m doing on the posts and whether or not my analysis could be more extensive. Each week I try to figure out how much time to spend on it and I’m never completely sure if I am on target for topic or word count, and though we do discuss the posts in class, I don’t get much feedback. Honestly, I would appreciate more feedback in general. I don’t know if I mainly feel this because I have not had as many professor meetings as I should be having. I would just like to know how I’ve progressed, especially in terms of ability to articulate my point of view. I believe I am only doing better as I get comfortable with the each professor’s teaching style and the class dynamic, but I need to maybe actively ask for more direct feedback so I can know where to improve.

I think above, Kieres and Sula put the other issue perfectly. When Kieres mentioned the fact that no one argued from both sides of The New Jim Crow I realized that, stunningly, that was true and it should have been a given. While I was at home and arguing passionately on issues with family members, I realized that many of them actually see me as narrow-minded…part of this is them generalizing but I have realized that I tend to dismiss their opinions without actually considering them, because I am stuck on my own. This is obviously part of my own development and personality, but as a class, we can sometimes do this as well; it can turn into a competition about who can have the most radical point of view, and people do not want to bring up any dissenting idea. We need to work on making more safe spaces in class. Like I mentioned earlier, safe spaces but not comfort spaces. A comfort space is where people do not want to stretch their thinking past what they already know and their opinions, and is a place where dissenting voices are silenced. Safe spaces are where people lean into discomfort, and feel safe enough to speak up even if their idea may not be something everyone agrees with. I think that we are stuck in a comfort space right now, because many of us came to this 360 with similar ideas, or have become stuck in a groove of similar ideas. As the other two touched on, we have this opportunity to explore our own and each other’s complex personhood, and we should take it. We can see each other as complex and not define a person by a single statement but by the sum of their experiences.

In conclusion-

Overall, though, I am absolutely loving this experience…It has been one of the top educational experiences of my life. I am constantly grateful to be in such stimulating spaces with this group of people, who bring me to a higher plane of thinking all of the time. Every time I left a 360 class last week, I was incredibly excited and reveling in the insights that came from it. We have reached a point in the semester where a lot of complex ideas are weaving themselves together…this is truly an unforgettable experience. I also have found the professors to be incredibly supportive and caring, as well; they truly listen to me when I meet with them and in class and that means so much to me. I have grown to appreciate my fellow students so much more through having three classes and so many other experiences with them, and found so much power in our combined intellectual objectives. 

ttong's picture

         Working well

        I can’t really think of specific things that have been working well because overall I really enjoy every class and discussion. I appreciate the level of conversations most that we are able to get deep and share personal stories throughout the first half semester. Sharing personal stories is a very important way for me to feel connected, trusted and close to other people. Moreover, the personal stories we share enable me to develop understanding and empathy (not necessarily good, but) towards every member of our group, and these understandings would further enable me to comprehend others’ comments and point of views in class. I also love the amount of silent time we have in the classroom. As a slow thinker, I usually start to talk and share in the later half of the class. The silent time we have in classes enable me to process at my own pace while keeping up with the whole class. The silent activity in Anne’s class works really well as a transition between classes and as a relaxing moment from the heavy topics we are talking about. Although I’m constantly out of my comfort zone, I really appreciate the class dynamic that pushes me. I’m usually very hesitant to share since I’m very sensitive, but the class dynamic has been “inviting” me to talk and share, in a less uncomfortable way. Because I have been in the Friday book club for a long time, it is really nice to see that we are trying to bring in new “teaching” approaches. These new techniques are refreshing for me, and I certainly look forward to applying more interesting methods in the Friday club.

 Could work better

        I have been feeling very stressed out since the beginning of this semester (partially because of the senior year), not academically but mental and emotionally. I think it has a lot to do with the things we talk about in class and the readings we are assigned. I just really want a “break” with the 360 that everyone is able to talk something not relevant to the course, something relaxing or even silly. Because the 360 is so powerful, I could not stop thinking about it even in my personal time that I will be constantly brought back to conversations we had in classroom and be thrown into this very heavy and stressed mentality. I’m not saying things we talk in class are not important, they absolutely are. I’m just trying to say that we could probably use sometime to remind ourselves that we are more than this 360 and it is fine to “escape” from this course for a little while.
        I actually have been going through some personal difficulties since earlier this semester, and I just want to utilize this space to tell each one of you how much I appreciate this 360s because it really helps me to pull myself out from the messy personal life and think critically. And it is just nice in general to spend quality time with you guys every week. Thank you and let’s continue to be amazing and incredible.


saturday's picture

A disclaimer: in all honesty, a lot of my feelings surrounding the cluster are tied to my personal ability rather than the workings of the courses, and I don't think this is the best space for those concerns. As such, I'll try and leave that out as much as possible. This isn't a comprehensive (or comprehensible) post, but it touches on a few thoughts I have.

What's working

I enjoy our in-class discussions, especially when we work in small groups and bring it back in to a larger discussion. I feel like I get a lot more from the discussions of the readings than just the readings themselves; often it's when a classmate restates an idea in different words or gives a new approach that I finally get that a-ha moment and have clarity with the reading. It also helps illuminate why we're doing certain readings when we bring the texts back into our field work or into the larger theories and goals of the class. I appreciate the class sessions most where I can step up and step down as I please, as I can gain a great deal from being silent in a conversation and listening to the ideas of others rather than always having to put something forward myself, but if I have something I want to contribute I will find a way to put myself in that conversation.
I'm enjoying our prison work a lot more than I thought I would, and as draining as it can be it honestly feels like the most "worthwhile" part of this course (not exactly the word I want, but the closest I can find at the moment). It forces me to find my motivation and stay engaged, and I find the whole process impactful in a new and refreshing way. I feel like with our lesson planning discussions we're developing our own ideas on what it means to be educators in this space, and are able to bounce around different ideas and have a kind of productive conflict.

What needs work

I feel like I came into the poli sci course wanting something that felt like other courses in that department I have taken, but instead it feels like it's just the experimental essay class, which is interesting in its own way but leave a lot to be desired. I feel like the discussions do a great deal for helping further the presenter's ideas, but I personally don't get a lot out of it, and I don't find the incentive to do the readings for class. I think if we cut down the presentation time or spread them out so that we could have both in-class time and presentation time like was present in earlier sessions, then it would feel like there was more of a direction and purpose to what we're doing. The session before the essays started felt the most like the class I wanted, and while it's unreasonable to cut out that project entirely, having it dominate the entire class time makes me feel like my presence in class is largely superfluous and that I'm just getting my classmates' individual interpretations of the material. That probably just reflects my own personal learning style and a yearning for something a little less free-form that I can anchor myself onto (which comes into direct conflict with how others learn best, as it is).

abby rose's picture

I am thankful as always for the opportunity to connect our praxis experience with our readings and personal reflections. What a special space to have, especially with all of us present in it. Related, I have really loved how hands-on we have been with the lesson planning. I can tell how invested each and every one of you is in our weekly visits to the jail and I would just like to say thank you for the effort and passion that everyone has brought both inside and outside of our classrooms surrounding this. 

On the jail and group dynamics, I think that we must continue to be honest with each other on our capabilities and discomforts when it comes to planning and participating in class. It’s crucial in my opinion that we are all on the same page before going inside in order to create the best experience for all of us (insiders and outsiders alike) each week— so to reiterate what the Thursday group discussed the other week, speak up when you need help or clarification or you are unsure about anything. Please! It’s so important to communicate with one another. So far I think our new organization has been a success, let’s see if we can keep it up. 

As I (along with others) mentioned in Jody’s class last Thursday, I am calling upon all of us to push ourselves in classroom discussions. Too often I feel like we tiptoe around what we really think, or what we’re afraid to think, or what the real question at hand is during our discussions because we fear how others will view us. I think we could and should talk more about this during dinner tomorrow as it is a multi-layered issue. But my main point here is that we aren’t taking huge risks as a group and I would like to debunk why exactly that may be. I agree with kregensburg when they say that we should assume good will, and conversely I think that we should be brave enough to speak in opposition to what our classmates say as well welcome the critique when it comes as an exercise for our thoughts, NOT a personal attack.

Although all of our professors have been clearly communicating to us the purpose of our research project, the project itself is so removed from our day to day classroom discussions that I don’t spend very much time thinking about or preparing for it at all. I would like more integration of the research project with our class time. 

I have been struggling to complete all of the readings as well, so this next comment is a little more personal, but I appreciate the classes that are based off of the readings and take it to a broader level. For the times that I am only able to skim the readings and get the bare bones of the materials, I would still like to engage in class discussions and follow along. This has been going alright so far. 

I have noticed that people have been using Serendip more often to work through personal issues and continue the discussions that have been happening in class and it’s a very enlightening and exciting phenomenon. I encourage myself and others to try this more often when we feel impassioned or upset or confused about an occurrence in or relating to our class. And honestly, what doesn’t relate to this class?

And to mention once more what we discussed last week and what others have posted: let’s meet up! I think some downtime together could be a revitalization that we need at this point in the semester. 

han yu's picture

I am confused everytime when hearing people mentioning the potential "power dynamics" that may be created between us and the women in the literacy groups. Isn't that I am always in a privileged position that I can leave the facility but they can't? and isn't that it is one of my choices to go in while it may be their few chances to contact the ourside world? I am not saying that being aware of the power dynamic is wrong, but shouldn't I admit the fundamental differences between our situations and be candid about why I am there? Learning happens in acknowledging the differences, such as people's willingness of learning from a different culture. If I keep myself struggling in denying the power and privilege I have, too timid to take any action to avoid being "politically wrong", only to make myself feel better, I will risk being stucked in a deadlock, not doing anything meaningful. I am there since I want to learn, since I care, since I want to be a better person. And I hold the believe of our equal existence in that time and space with the women and I am motivated by believing that the experience is reciprocal. I am not pushing anything into them. I am not intentionally giving anything, since it is always up to them what they can and what they want to absorb, what they want to feel, to learn, to give. And it is the same to me that it is up to me what I can conclude from my experience, what I have achieved, what things I have done may not be proper, How I can improve. Coming to this phase of mindset, (I am using the word "phase" since I am open to becoming different in the future), I really want to suggest the value of praxis, the indispensable part of learning, real experiences. Sometimes I feel that the Bryn Mawr atmosphere is too intensive from its homogeinity. I cannot overlook the huge part of outside population's voices and logic (even if they sometimes sounds wrong or too "conservative") only because I am somewhat more educated, or more idealistic. Why should I force everyone not from Bryn Mawr into my logic? How can I say I hold the better truth if I deny their opinions from the surface without exploring their deep down reasons of holding what they believe? How can I be sure I am not talking in void while voicing the opinions only from what I have read without enough real life experiences, comparing to those people who are dealing with realities everyday and who learn from their experiences? 

rb.richx's picture

What's engaging, stretching, and otherwise working well for you in our work (and play) together? 

So far, most everything has worked well for me. I know that this is informed both by A) how I’ve missed many classes and events, and B) that I tend to contribute (perhaps overly so) in classroom conversations.

But… basically, I have over all had positive experiences with the work when I am able to do it and/or be present. 

I don’t know that I have as much to say about things as much as many other people have… I agree and disagree with several points others have made… I think that having some critiques of our readings is very important, but I find having “opposing” ideas in a classroom can create a loop of not actually getting anywhere with a conversation… so it can be a fine line… Also I think any added to the workload would definitely be too much for me personally…

On that note, I appreciate the ways that the professors have guided discussions in ways that don’t necessitate completing the readings in full. It makes classes much more accessible for participating in meaningful conversation. Even when I have done the readings and had the time and ability to read and mark everything extensively, I don’t feel like there is anything missing from the conversations, and when I’ve only had time to skim or maybe miss a reading, I don’t feel that I’m absolutely useless in the space.


What are your suggestions for the second half - what would you like us to do more or less or differently?  

The final project (and research?) is really bogging me down. I don’t know where to go, how to start, or how to do anything that feels morally right.

And… well, I think this specifically might go against something I said to Anne in a one-on-one conversation, but I would like to have more interactions outside of the classroom. I don’t think that the time in the prison really allows for us to work on our dynamics or learn about each other because that time is very limited and structured, and it also only includes half of us at a time. I would be interested in doing more activities like the day we took with our two tours in the city; I personally felt like we were able to talk to each other then in a different way while also doing something…. Well. I don’t know if fun is quite the right word.


ending thoughts:

i'm definitely looking forward to hearing what people have to say at dinner tomorrow. i really want some more feed back to respond to...

(feedback... because it's a dinner.......................................................... ignore me)

i also think that at some point it would be good to have a discussion about /revisit how we individually contribute in the classroom. this might include some of what was mentioned earlier about having more guidelines? but also like... when do we raise hands, how do we address one another to help pull people into the conversation who may not have been heard, who (like me) speaks too much (me) and how can we encourage those who might over power the conversations (me) to enage in different ways. one of those, like, not-quite finger pointing sessions in which we're frank with one another, maybe address classroom tensions that may or may not exist (i wouldn't know because i haven't seen folks in a while so...).

yeah, i dont know that this is actually helpful, but i think that such a conversation might open people up more. it sounds like there might have been a conversation that started to address some of these things on thursday... (can someone catch me up on that tomorrow perhaps?)

resistance5's picture

For me, one of the most fulfilling parts about participating in a 360 is seeing how the abstract concepts we learn in class apply in real life. And I've just started to realize how necessary that has to become to my learning. I remember one day in Anne's class we were discussing the role of an educator as someone who is tasked with preparing their students for real life. And I can truly say that out of all of my educational experiences, I feel as if this 360 has prepared me the most for the real world. Even though my previous educators were trying to prepare me for the real world, in my mind, I never connected the things I learned in class to the things that were going on around me. And I really appreciated having these connections made for me by the 360, but even more, I appreciated having the opportunity to make these connections for myself. 

Like some of my classmates have mentioned, I have enjoyed some readings more than others. Also like some of my classmates have mentioned, I don't think the readings are coordinated well enough. I don't have enough time to delve into the readings like I would like to. What happens more often than not, is that I'll find myself quickly reading the readings just so I can finish them. Sure I have a basic understanding of what is being said, but sometimes I feel like I miss gaining a deeper understanding of the text because I'm hurrying to finish it. And sometimes I find it frustrating when I come to class, having stressed out about a reading, only for us to either not discuss the story or spend the class time discussing one aspect of the story. And then after that class it's as if the readings disappear into a black hole. I think something we can do going forward is to try bringing some of our past readings into conversation with our current readings. 

Also, going forward, I would appreciate it if we could make our postings on Serendip optional or not as frequent. It feels as if I'm being forced to speak on command. And I hate it. A possible suggestion is to require us to post a certain amount of postings by the end of the year, allowing us to post only when we feel we have something to say. I don't know about anyone else, but I would really appreciate it. Because I feel as if I'm being forced to speak, I find that even when I have something to say, I feel less inclined to share.

Something else is that I feel like I never get a break from the 360, because on the days we don't have class or the prison we have to do a posting. Basically, for those of us who go to the prison on Friday, the only day we "get off" from the 360 is Saturday, but even then I still have work I have to do for the 360. And then there's the fact that we have so many outside of the class activities that take up a lot of time and energy. The subject matter, by itself, is intense, but if you add in all these other factors, you get a continuously stressed out Sylvia. And what adds to my stress is what is still a very abstract research project. And every time, we have to post an update I get even more stressed because I feel as if that means I'm supposed to be advancing, but I don't feel closer to an end goal. At this point, I really need a break, and I would appreciate if we could somehow lighten the load.

To be honest, I don't like it when we incorporate my postings in the class discussion. What unsettles me the most is when I see my words apart from their context, framed by somebody else's context, using my words to say what they want to say. When I see an ellipsis in place of my words, it makes me feel as if I have lost ownership of my own words, as if I am being made to say something other than what I had said. In the future, I would appreciate my words being kept in their original context, even if some words seem superfluous, and I would also appreciate if you would at least tell me in advance that you'll be including my posting in our class discussion.


The Unknown's picture

I wanted to start by saying that I appreciate, have grown from, and cherish people’s honesty and openness. I am constantly impressed and intrigued by my fellow classmates different interpretations of texts, activities, and conversations. I really appreciate that we are all struggling, whether that is about our own place in this racist, classicist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or how to combat these injustices.

As Shirah stated, though in a slightly different way, one of the most intriguing and valuable aspects of the 360 for me is how we discuss topics from different lenses in the three classes. I feel that we expand on previous thoughts, questions, and ideas by complicating them.

I want to honor and name the risks that people take in class and online and step back and realize that sometimes opinions or thoughts are people’s struggles through complex issues. I would like us and me included to encourage more breaks between speakers to allow for formulations of ideas to settle and be pondered. Meerajay said that the readings become more interesting through discussions and I wanted to highlight how much more I am able to incorporate the lessons, strategies, and interpretations of different authors into my changing understanding of why we work in the prison after I hear from my peers.

I also want to point out something that she said that I thought was so poignant and beautiful. She was talking about experimental essays and discussing the vulnerability in sharing ideas. I think that we are growing and discovering that we all have struggles and though our backgrounds can be extremely divergent and though I would never say that we are the same, the processes of discovery and often pain in challenging our own truths is powerful to witness and I honestly feel privileged to be a part of this transformation. One of my goals, without an end point is to become more compassionate, more open, more forgiving, and less critical. This is especially difficult for me because I have extremely strong and often forceful opinions.

One suggestion would be that the professors could let us “stray” a little more. Sometimes I think people start tangents that are not necessarily related to the “agenda” for that class, but involve difficult questions and interests that I would like to further explore. Let’s acknowledge and embrace our uncertainties.

I am also continuously hoping to push us in a way where we confront our discomforts and prejudices. Yet, I also think it is important to acknowledge that there are different dilemmas and questions involved in each person’s handling and wrestling of their own struggles. I think one conversation that we have not had and would be extremely difficult is assessing racial, class, xenophobia, and other ways in which we exclude or hurt people in our own group with our actions and words. How can I be more sensitive to the needs and struggles of those around me?

There were a couple extremely courageous comments where people articulated that they were confused, either by the framing, directionality of a discussion or assignment, or the purpose behind a certain activity.  I would like us to ask more questions, but also embrace our own ignorance. I think, one of my greatest hindrances to growth is my pride. I want to be assured that I know, that I’m write, but what if we actively created more spaces to be lost in, confused with, unsure of. I think I would at least feel more intrigued and part of a process, rather than a solution or result in our 360 if we embraced our ignorance. I find that when I am left questioning I grow and learn the most.

Tong discussed sharing personal stories and how that influences her feelings of connection and trust within the group. I think this is a brave statement. I struggle with finding the balance between speaking with stories and experiences versus what I have read and heard from people in positions of power. I want to be more patient and I want us to be more patient. I think we need to breath and incorporate the silences between people’s thoughts/statements. I want to acknowledge and appreciate the process of formulating and contriving a sentence.

I do think it is important to acknowledge the responsibility we have in the prison. How we may or may not positively or negatively impact the womyn we work with.

I am going to quote Han here, because I was struck by how articulately and magnificently she phrased a question I explore in different ways many times each day, “How can I say I hold the better truth if I deny their opinions from the surface without exploring their deep down reasons of holding what they believe?” Though I think this question has so many faceted meanings, Han brilliantly addresses the possibility that each statement has many significations and though some may be more right, how can we choose? There is not bottom of an argument. I don’t think there is one answer, one path, and that is why I don’t just appreciate all of you, but need your voices to form a part of the one I am struggling to find.