jrschwartz15's blog

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Reflections on The Final Project

For the final project, Kamila and I put together a virtual scrapbook of the course. The idea came from a project I had to do as a senior at my high school, a learning walk. In my opinion, it was a great way to summarize In Classed, Out Classed and to revisit what we've learned and the many moments in that journey. While it was not as interactive as many of the other projects, It seemed to be well recieved by the class and I am proud of the product we put forth. With more time we would have gone much more in depth, but in general I feel our video gave a a good representation of the course and all we've accomplished.

The event in general was a great way to wind up our ESem experience and I enjoyed everyone's creative approaches to such an open-ended assignment! I really think each project encapsulated that course and wish everyone the best of luck with finals!

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A Frosh Perspective

Attached is a short story of a freshman going between two very different classroom environments- a large lecture and a 6 person course. Inspired by the educational autobiography at the beginning of the year, I realized that the most poignant experiences of mine thus far have been the varying classroom environments I have experienced.

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Is Academic Writing Classist?

Academic writing is just as classed if not more than education. The label of "academic writing" in itself expects a certain level of education and sophistication in the reader. While in an ideal world education would not be determined by class, the two are very interconnected. Class determines access, plain and simple. It is not that nobody will give opportunity to those of less privilige, but awareness of opportunity/ability to maximize opportunity is limited by class. The complex world of Academia is included in that cycle - public vs. private institutions, better or worse school districts, a lot or not so much time available for studying, etc.

It is also fair to say that academic writing is more classed than education becuase not only must you have access to the education that might allow you to understand it, but you have to be able to apply that education to the text. Whether it's disability or having to allocate after school hours to work instead of researching details of the writing, there are a multitude of things that not even attending the right school could allow you to fully appreciate academic writing. Between this is and the occassionally stifling formality associated with academic writing, it is not my favorite writing to produce but as a student I cannot argue that it has it's place in my studies.

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Research Paper

The most important task with this paper for me was staying within the confines of my data. Three interviews with BMC student does not offer a broad range of information to make larger claims very strong. Academic writing must be able to be suported by more than conviction, fact, statement, interview, quote, calculation, etc. While you may "know" that there is a larger truth to what you are saying, you must not state something bigger than your concrete data shows.  Additionally resourcing interviews for an essay was a first for me, and it was great to explore research options other than the internet and books.

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Workshop Reflections

Friday's workshop was a good start towards opening up a campus discussion about class and class issues. It was interesting to hear from some of the more established administrators in one of my discussion groups about how Bryn Mawr used to be. I knew from the other day that class used to be very apparent on campus, but hearing it about it from someone who was involved in distributing the list of students on financial aid enhanced my awareness. I am very appreciative of the changes around campus. It is possible to argue that the changes make discussions about class taboo and uncomfortable and that it does no good to sweep these topics under the rug. I am of the opinion, however, that there is a difference between openly discussing class and announcing a student's financial situation. It is possible to have the free-flowing and inclusive discourse without the extremes, and workshops such as this are how to achieve that balance. The next step is to augment the group in the workshop and to include some experiential activities, not just a few brave souls commenting and discussing with the rest of the group watching.

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A Thinking Place

This is the pond at Rhoads Beach. I chose this image because of the fact that this space simultaniously counts as opened and closed. It is open because there are no walls, no ceilings, no doors. It is natural, bright, and welcoming. This provides room for thought and creativity. It is, however, somewheat secluded. It is set at the bottom of the hill of Rhoads Beach and surrounded by trees. It is also a farily solitary area as not too many people can fit on the small brige-like structure. I go here for reflection and relaxation. It's a very serene place and does offer the comfort of solice. This balance between free and isolated is ideal for me and why this spot on campus is so important to me.

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The Half Way Mark

As we have approximately reached the half way point in the seminar, this weeks assignment of a self evaluation was fitting. My focus in this seminar has been on my writing, so that is where my paper was focused. High school gave me plenty of experience with academic writing, but personalization and opinions was generally secondary to grammar and factual content. In reviewing my essays from this seminar, fortunately the primary growth in my writing does seem to be in the personalization of my papers. The value in including personal annecdotes and opinions in academic writing has become clear to me. Particularly in the process of revising my essay on disability and access to education, personalizing my essays has become more natural. This has created a small problem, however, with the tone of my writing.  In this process of working on the personalization of my papers, I wrote almost too close to the manner in which I speak. This produced rather informal writing and while maintaining a voice is important, a casual tone can lessen the authority of an academic essay. The next step in the process of fine-tuning my writing is now finding the balance between formal and personal. 

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Our Upcoming High School Visit

The environment will definitely be different from educational environments I have personally experienced, but I don't believe it will definitely not be any major culture shock. Having worked with at risk youth at People TV in Atlanta and through my theatre company, I have some perspective on what is typical of an urban public school environment. Additionally it is one of the better public schools in Philly; the students are selected. Primarily I am hoping to compare and contrast Philadelphia public schools and Atlanta public schools. Georgia is one of the lowest ranked educational systems in the nation, so it will be interesting to observe public education in a higher ranked state.The capabilities of an educational system provides insight about the community, so my expectation is that learning about education in Philly will educate me about my new community.

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Education and Society

It is my belief that education does not equalize our society. If anything, education is what divides out society. An education either affirms or changes your position in society. If it changes your position it can separate you from your home community, and affirming your position does not accomplish much. Education can only be truly equalizing if exactly everyone is presented with exactly the same education with varying educational environments that will allow each individual to achieve exactly the same level of knowledge. If this was the case, however, our society would be extremely limited. A diverse set of skills is unarguably vital to any community, and a truly equalizing education would hinder that greatly.

If the idea of an equalizing education is generalized from skill to class, this same issue still remains. Multiple individuals trained in different skills but all of the same class and access is still counterproductive. Class and educational experience are defining factors in everyone's perspectives and beliefs. Too similar experiences homoginize the view point of society and make the ideals of democracy pointless, and our leadership could easily come from one person. I'm pretty sure this prospect does not appeal to anybody here. Education is most definitely not what equals society nor can it be without consequences reminiscent of an unnerving totalitarian novel.

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Disability and Access to Education

" In addition to looking a little different, learning disabilities are common affects of Turner’s Syndrome. Before being diagnosed, many Turner Syndrome girls are actually led to believe they had ADHD or other more general learning disabilities. In my case, I had 11 years before my diagnosis told me the laundry list of things I shouldn’t be able to do and until the point had not been aware of the term “limits.” There are some Turner’s patients who are diagnosed earlier than I was, some even at birth. The average age of diagnosis for Turner’s, however, is around 15 or 16 years old. As a result, each patient has wildly different experiences in their formative years thus noticeably different educational experiences.  " 

For my essay, I decided to focus on how disability can define a student's access to education. As a person with a disability, I focused my paper more or less on Turner's Syndrome and it's impact. Surprisingly, I made some new discoveries about my own disability in researching for the paper. Newer research shows a connection between Turner's and ADD/ADHD. I was previously unaware of the link and a lot of the challenges I have faced academically now make sense. Upon this discovery I discussed it with one of my good friends back home who manages her ADD without meds. When I told her, she responded "You didn't know you had ADD?" I know I can be a little over the top at times and do often drift from work causing me to move at a slower pace, but I had never connected the dots...

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