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Deciding Where We Meet--and Reflecting on What Difference it Makes

Anne Dalke's picture


A few years ago, a senior in "Ecological Imaginings" posted this comment on Serendip: Having class outside is not working for me.  At first, I was excited to have class outside. I love being outside!  I’m realizing now that I should not mix school and outside.  Even though we’re physically outside of the classroom, the standards for our performance in discussions haven’t changed.  I spent a lot of time on Wednesday in class wondering what the blue jay was squawking about, and what the red tailed hawk was hunting for, and why it got so quiet in the last 15 minutes of class.  There were times when I had to look at my hands to keep them from picking at the grass and building log cabins with the twigs on the ground.  All the while, I felt guilty for not paying attention the way I am supposed in class.  If we’re expecting the same kind of attention to discussion as we do in other classes, then I think we should move inside.  If we’re expecting something different from discussion in this class, then I think we need to go over the rules.

What do you think the "rules of engagement" should be for our meetings in these alternative spaces?
Are they implicit? Should we make them explicit?

In order for us to work on these questions together,
each of you will do three things (but you only have to do them once!)
The night before the date assigned to you below,
* check weatherunderground to confirm conditions,
* then send an e-mail telling us where we will meet, and why you've selected that site;
* after class, post a comment describing how you made your decision,
and also what you noticed about our behavior in your site--
especially about how we coped (or not) w/ the distractions of being there.

Do you have any ideas about how to incorporate these reflections into our curriculum?
How might they evolve over the semester? Let's see....

Tues, Mar. 17--Anne: chairs out front of English House (meeting in the wind)
Thurs, Mar. 19--Abby: English House Lecture Hall (comfortable)
Tues, Mar. 24--Amala: English House basement lounge (dinner party aesthetic)
Thurs, Mar. 26--Ariel: English House Lecture Hall (insular)
Tues, Mar. 31--Caleb: English House Lecture Hall (sterile, silent)
Thurs, Apr. 2--Marian: Cloisters with Eli Clare (windy, chilly, not @ ease)
Tues, Apr. 7--Joni: Graveyard beyond Morris Woods (loud, interactive, itchy)
Thurs, Apr. 9--Liz: Merion Common Room (comfortable)
Tues, Apr. 14--Maddie: English House Lecture Hall (really nice)
Thurs, Apr. 16--Celeste: Cloisters (great to be outdoors on a beautiful day!)
Tues, Apr. 21--Nkechi: Radnor Common Room (different needs not met)
Thurs, Apr. 23--Rosa: Goodhart Common Room (tense and moving)
Tues, Apr. 28--Teresa: in the classroom --> and into the woods (no difference)
Thurs, Apr. 30--Tosin: in the classroom ("I'm a fan of the inside")