Anne Dalke's picture

How to host a difficult conversation?

By 5 p.m. on Sunday, post as a comment here your reflections on one of the central questions raised by our reading of Coetzee's novella, The Lives of Animals: what does it tell us about the possibility that vegetarians and meat-eaters (or anyone w/ decidedly opposed views) can actually enter into productive dialogue?  Might some divisions be so deep that common academic training, common culture, or even familial ties can not bridge the gap? (Think of this as a warming-up for your next paper, due next weekend: “how much latitude can we allow”? At what point are we "allowed" to "call the question," and refuse further conversation?)

Anne Dalke's picture

SO much energy

in our lit classroom, during the past two sessions--it left me breathless today (and I loved it!). Wanting, like Jessica, to use this spillover place that is Serendip, which gives us room for what we don't have "in-class" time for, I want to follow-up on some of the distinctions Simona's been making about 'real facts' and 'subjective stories,'
starting with some short readings: a piece in Geology, 2014 about The science of subjectivity; and three talks, delivered in a faculty discussion group 10 years ago--one by Arlo Weil, another by David, another by me...
and then there's this March 31st NYTimes piece about how College Classes Use Arts to Brace for Climate Change...

To be continued (I hope!)

Jessica Bernal's picture

Such thing as too much energy in a classroom?

We didn't have quite enough time for me to bring this up in class, but I'm really interested to know what you guys think of the following situation...

Most schools if not all tell teach their students to stand and walk in perfect lines, to sit straight in their desks, to put their hands behind their backs, to not speak unless given permission. Authoritive and controlling we apppear to children when shouldn't we be embracing their innocense and let their energy flow not strain?

Teachers complain to parents about their kids having too much energy, but why do schools make it seem like such a bad thing? 

Has anyone else thought about this?

Anne Dalke's picture

crime plummets in camden

To discuss:  "full deployment of 160 'eye-in-the-sky' cameras, and other
high-tech equipment that remotely monitors whole swaths of the city...
'It's like Big Brother, but I just don't care.... If they don't get jobs, things will stay the same'"....

Anne Dalke's picture

allegorical panels

This looks like remarkable work-- --and it was on display @ The Church Studios, in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia.

Anne Dalke's picture

Re-imagining the iconography of maps

I just came across a very powerful illustration of the central idea of our course: that all representations are limited. This article in today's edition of The Guardian, on Why Google Maps gets Africa wrong, tells the interesting story of the limitations of maps. There are strong eco- and econ-threads in all of this, from the early mapmakers who would "fill their gaps" with "elephants for want of towns," through the Berlin Conference, where "Europe's colonial powers coloured in their territories with their imperial hue-of-choice" (we saw this represented in Shonibare's "Scramble for Africa")--

--through today's Google maps, "driven by commercial multinational profitability" and "the prospects of advertising revenue." Google maps are "produced on the west coast of America," which "necessarily affects how they are made." Imagine, instead, that "all of Google's data and programming ability was suddenly in the hands of a Namibian agriculturalist, a Sahelian nomad or a Senegalese fisherwoman – the maps they would conjure up would be completely different. They might well prioritise soil types over Starbucks, wells over Walmarts and the state of land degradation over panoramic street views of American towns."


Hummingbird's picture


I don’t feel I can write about my praxis in this forum. Even without naming students or sharing identifying information, the dialogue we have in our focus groups is so personal and vulnerable making that I don’t want to either expose people by reflecting on moments in the groups or make them personally uncomfortable when seeing the way I’ve reflected specifically on a moment in the work (by telling a vignette).

In spite of avoiding or rejecting the idea of writing a vignette on this Praxis, I will reflect on an important moment of connection I had with theory and experience within the Praxis. In our group on Sunday, I used educational theory to help reflect with our participants on the meta-processes happening in the sharing they were doing. After a moment of tension, we reflected together on Ellsworth’s idea that true dialogue is impossible and acknowledged that we were all coming into the room with different assumptions about each other’s identities. We also acknowledged the immense listening and openness required to understand – even partially – the many layers of identity we all came with. At the tea for the Identity Matters 360º yesterday, one of the professors mentioned that she doesn’t see a person as a single identity or whole being, but instead as many layers and intersections. I definitely see this play out in all of the focus groups we’ve held, and I appreciate the way it complexifies our understandings of topics, events, and each other.

cnewville's picture

Friday Assembly

At my placement, I rarely have time to take a set back and observe the students and their school community. I am usually knee deep in the class and talking to the students, interacting with them, facilitating the class and having a very present role in the classroom. This past friday, after a few hours of being there, going over a science experiment with water chemical levels, I had the chance to stay at the school for a school wide assembly after my class-when they usually have class that I do not attend. As I walked with a student from my class who had been helping me clean up, I asked him what they were meeting for in the afternoon, he explained that every Friday in the morning, they have an all school assembly to announce the 'star student of the week' which was a student from each grade that was reconigized by the teachers for excellence during that past week. I asked him if he had ever gotten the 'star student' recognition, and he said he had a few times. 

stonewall's picture

Praxis Placement Story-Ice breakers

Last Saturday, at my placement in Adelante, we had a parent/student session in Norristown to share with the parents and students information on different learning styles. The week before each of the students took a quiz to see what kind of learner they were. At the beginning of the session we played a game with the parents and students. There was a bag filled with different colored paper and each person had to take a peice. If the person picked a blue paper they would have to share their dreams for their child. If they picked a green paper they would have to share their favorite book/movie. If they picked a yellow paper they would share a place they want to travel to some day. As we went around the room people shared their answers. None of the parents spoke English and most of them had to bring their younger children with them because they couldn't get a babysitter. When asked what their dreams were for their students a lot of the parents said the same thing,they wanted them to go to college and make a better life for themselves, and the American dream and whatnot. After one mother shared that she wanted her son to go to college, our coordinator added "and graduate!". This reminded me of a book that I'm reading for my inquiry project called From here to university : access, mobility, and resilience among urban Latino youth by Alexander Jun. In the book he discusses why Lantino retention rates at Universities are so low. This moment also reminded me of what my parents wanted for me.

kdiamant's picture

Praxis Post

My placement is at a preschool literacy program for children whose families’ dominant language is Spanish. The majority, if not all of the children, are of Mexican descent.  On Monday, we spent a significant amount of our structured time singing and dancing. Many of the songs and rhymes played were children’s songs that are in English and are part of an English speaking culture—The Hokey Pokey, the alphabet song, Jack Be Nimble, etc. When the teacher, Ms. L, played London Bridges, she also sang a version of a similar song/game in Spanish. She also played and had them dance to the pop song, Happy, and some of the children started to add in their own dance moves. When Ms. L was particularly impressed by a boy’s dancing/energy, she made comments about how he was going to have a lot of girlfriends when he grew up. After many songs in English, the children sang “De Colores” (in Spanish). Then, the teacher told them, “Niños (boys) on that side, and  niñas (girls) on that side.” The two groups split up into lines of boys and girls. The boys were reminded to put their hands behind their backs, and the girls put their hand on their hips. The teacher then played The Mexican Hat Dance, and the children did a dance that they seemed to all know.

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