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Shifting into independent study: Notes Towards Day 22 (Thurs, Nov. 17)

Anne Dalke's picture

-explain my thinking about not holding class last Tuesday:
over weekend, I visualize class, work up lesson plan;
this past Sunday, could not imagine we’d be able to have a productive conversation:
my deep commitment to a form of education that is ppl making knowledge together;
doesn’t work if we all can’t be prepared, present, contributing;
as we’ve acknowledged to one another:
we've often been unable to do that as a large group,
unwilling to take up that shared responsibility.

i take responsible for much of this failure;
it's been a hard learning experience for me,
& i have lots of regret that this has come @ the cost
of so much pain for so many of us.

last Sunday, in particular despair, anxiety, low energy after election;
with many of you still working on your papers
I couldn’t imagine that any of us could come to class
on Tuesday ready to talk about Americanah; admitted to myself that I lacked
the heart, will, energy, capacity to try and facilitate a discussion of that novel;
didn’t seem that it was going to be productive to just slog on through

--in asking you to spend Tuesday’s classtime reading,
then posting your reactions that night,
I was trying to create space/conditions for us
to have that sort of conversation today.

but when I saw only 5 postings (+ a 6th this morning)
I realized that most of you aren’t reading,
some of you aren’t planning on reading,
some of you who have already read Americanah
are not wanting to talk about it with this group--
had to acknowledge I could not make that happen

--am very committed, however, to facilitating something that
will be positive for each of us/learning something new.

So! shifting the last 3 weeks of semester into a different mode:
a fluid independent study for each of you.

-- please take out a sheet of paper and write for 10 minutes
about an idea/a text you would like to learn more about,
I will collect these now: not a contract, just a first set of thoughts
towards your a final 6-pp. paper for me.

could be (my original) plan, to read Americanah and write about the
perceptions of a non-American black about race in this country, and/or Nigeria;
could be a plan to read/re-read A Taste of Salt and write on it;
could be a plan to read/write about another text I haven’t assigned,
but which you think would be important/helpful for you to work with.

several mentioned to me the possibility of our watching the new
documentary Thirteenth together, followed by some sort of silent conversation;
maybe we could wrap up our time together that way; will discuss that option w/
Monique and Jody about that during our regular planning time tomorrow,
when we’ll also review together how to juggle the schedule for our shared final work,
portfolio preparation, self-evaluations, etc.

The plan for now is not to meet again in this room as a whole class.
I will meet w/ each of you for ½ an hour during scheduled class time
to discuss your own project, help you begin to plan that paper
(can offer some add’l ind'l conferences; and/or if couple of you want to meet
to discuss Americanah, or Thirteenth; glad to do that).

So far, I’ve posted responses to 5 of your papers.
Want to go ahead and meet

here today:
3:00 Abby
3:30 Franny

next Tuesday in my office:


Am responding to your papers on a rolling basis, as they come in--
when I have responded to yours, will e-mail you to schedule a
conference of thinking-together and planning to write;

agenda for these: start w/ the paper you just finished, your responses to my response;
move to your notes from today: what do you want to work on for next 3 weeks?
share ideas, think about a paper arising from them.

Let’s write now….