My performance is inspired by my previous perception about the United States. Before coming here, everything I knew about this country was through the media. Through this class, I recognize that the US is not always as dreamy as I thought. There are a lot of downsides. Furthermore, I also realize the importance of the media to form my perception about the society and this perception is somehow stereotyped and biased. And I think most people all have the same problems. It is easy to make assumptions and judgement about other people based on their apprearance and language. This powerpoint aims to make me and the rest of the class to correct the wrong perception and become more impartial
A speech to the privileged
Dear my friends from upper class,
Many of you here have the privilege to be the sons and daughters of wealthy businessmen, well-known politicians and respectable scholars. I also have the privilege to come from a powerful family in my city. I believe we all recognize how fortunate we are to be descended from middle and upper class, at least in terms of economic advantages and public recognition. Among you guys, some may go beyond your class-bounded community to get in touch with working class. Some may still be restricted by the circle of similar friends and relatives. Some of you may have the ambition to create a more equal society while others may not notice or desire to disrupt the class orders. It doesn’t matter which side you are in at the moment. This speech is open to everyone who categorizes themselves as middle/upper class. All the ideas I share with you tonight is not the same as a lecture that a professor gives to his students. I know I am a little bit young to be a lecturer. Everything I say tonight is totally based on my meandering experience and knowledge.
I think the biggest problem wih academic writing is that it's too logical and rational. It prevents us from expressing our emotion. However, emotion is also a way of knowing besides reason, perception and language. First, emotion is a significant factor to form intuition. We sometimes just intuitively know something without thinking a lot about it. For example, it 's human nature to keep away from huge animals. Second, emotion is also the motivation to gain knowledge. Wrights brothers would never invented airplane if they hadn't had passion toward flying. And at that time,their ideas about flying was totally based on their emotion (passion) rather than reason (this idea was contradictory to gravity force in Physics). However, academic writing underestimates the importance of emotion in gaining knowledge. Furthermore, it's somehow impersonal which prevents us from express ourselves and sharing our experiences and point of view.
This kind of writing is totally new to me. Writing a paper based on your interviews and real life workshop is a very hard job, but I did learn a lot from that. I recognize the importance of making questions for an interview. It's obvious that we need to make open-ended questions, but to what extent? At first, I tried to make my questions very general. I thought by doing that, my interviewees wouldn't be limited by the narrow topics. They could have more space to express themselves. However, what happened was contradictory to what I expected. Because they are general questions, people just give me general answers. These answers are not deep enough to write a paper. I had to add so many small questions to get the information I want. Even though I tried my best, the information I got from all sources were not deep enough for me to write a good paper. To me, it's easier to write an essay based on complicated ideas from the texts rather than little stories I heard from the interviews. I just have 3 interviewees and all of my interviews just last for about half an hour, it's hard to step away from the simple ideas and acquire indepth information. However, it's nice to go beyond classroom and experience what happen in real life. It's a wonderful exercise that make students become more familiar with social research. I think all of us may have many difficulties and make mistakes for the first time, but we do learn a lot from this experience.
One interesting thing I observed in our on-campus workshop is when people tried to find the solution to class issues at Bryn Mawr. Most people suggested that we should have some open talks/ platforms about class issues in class or Wellness program. Yes, it's right that we should fix the issues by confronting rather than avoiding talking about them. However, it raises the next questions for us: Should we make the talk voluntary or coercive? If it's voluntary, we still have some people attend this kind of talk. However, I guess they are all open-minded people who are willing to solve the conflicts between different classes. Class issues are created by some narrow-minded individuals who stick themselves to certain catergories and isolate themselves from the rest of the community. I believe if we talk about class issues in some coercive environments such as in the classroom in which everyone is forced to participate, it may produce better results.
The Disadvantages of an Elite Education - A very interesting article that I want to share with our class
The Disadvantages of an Elite Education
Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers
By William Deresiewicz
It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I’d just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn’t succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. “Ivy retardation,” a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn’t talk to the man who was standing in my own house.
This Esem class teaches me to put myself in someone else's shoes. The more open-minded I am to new ideas, the less confident I feel about education. I am not sure about the purpose of schooling. I am wondering about the class issues in class. I am questioning myself about the meaning of education. It is much harder for me now to reach an absolute conclusion. I started raising more questions and getting a more balanced point of view. It is useful for me not only in this class but also in other matters I have in my life. However, I don't confidently admit that I am totally impartial. Sometimes my prejudice prevents me from acknowledging others'opinions.Seeing things through somebody's lens is an ongoing learning process. I haven't finished but I am confident that I am improving.
I also realize that our thinking can't just be stopped in a 3-page-essay each week. Three pages are a limitation for our writing but not an end to our thinking. Hence, more questions should be raised in my conclusions.
I always have a great time in class discussion. I encounter many new and unconventional ideas thanks to my classmates. They also contribute to my balanced point of view. I become more confident and overcome my fear of people's judgement. I am glad to be a part of the class where I can exchange my ideas and rethink my opinions.
Through our readings in class, I understand more about the schools in American cities. Therefore, I have some expectations about the school we are going to visit. Pictures about the high school we saw in class on Thursday somehow fostered my expectations. I guess most students are black and from working class. I expected that the quality of education is not up to the US standard as Traub described in his article. However, I desire to see something that challenges to what I expected. I want to have a different point of view in the future. I want to know whether this high school is one of a few successful stories about public education in the US.