I absolutely LOVED the time we spent with the fifth graders on Friday. It was so refreshing to be around young people, and at the same time it felt very productive, like we were doing good work together, creating ties between two very different groups of people. Though they were sort of supposed to be "teaching" us the planting process, the kids I was working with hadn't really remembered the steps, and since I have experience with planting seeds (and also since I was the adult figure and so gravitated to the leadership position naturally due to ageism), I ended up teaching them and it felt like a prelude to the lesson later in the afternoon. It was really interesting to reflect on the fact that, had I not learned the small details of gardening from my mother - poke a tiny hole with your finger, cover gently with a small amount of dirt and don't press down or pack it in) - I would not have felt nearly as confident in the instructions I gave.
I felt far less confident, however, when we got to the math lesson, despite our extensive preparation. There was really no way I could have prepared for four students at completely different levels of understanding, interest, and attention spans, for the chaos of managing all those at once and remaining calm and coherent, for students who don't just grasp what you're trying to explain after a short amount of explanation.
adults really get in the way: an analysis of education via unsupervised adventure (in The Phantom Tollbooth)
He noticed somehow that the sky was a lovely shade of blue and that one cloud had the shape of a sailing ship. The tips of the trees held pale, young buds and the leaves were a rich deep green. Outside the window, there was so much to see, and hear, and touch -- walks to take, hills to climb, caterpillars to watch as they strolled through the garden. There were voices to hear and conversations to listen to in wonder, the special smell of each day...His thoughts darted eagerly about as everything looked new -- and worth trying. (Juster 255-256)
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is a classic piece of children’s literature, published in 1961. A timeless and revered tale, it is not only enjoyable and educational, it also advocates the importance of appreciating and being aware of the world - the environment - around you. For this reason, and because of its educational nature and narrative, it is a fantastic environmental education tool for young people. Gauged at around a 5th-6th grade reading level (by Scholastic, etc) and recommended for ages 8-12, this chapter book is full of challenging words and word play that must elude most children who read it (many of the expressions went right over my head when I read it in 4th or 5th grade), making it equally enjoyable for adults.
My favorite part of the Shonibare exibit was the piece Scramble for Africa, the one with the big wooden table with men seated all around it. I felt so strongly the emotions felt by all the headless men in the room, the desparation of delegates from different European countries (and America). I could almost empathize with their feelings of need for control of the colonies of Africa. I was reminded of how I felt as a child, dividing up toys between me and my friend, and so strongly wanting my fair share, wanting justice. Except of course that in this situation, justice is impossible, and this debate which feels so real to those men, and to viewers of the piece, fails to make real the millions of people it concerns. So many lives swung in the balance of this argument, and yet those men in power felt none of them, only their own needs. It would be easy to call them greedy, to call all powerful white men greedy, and perhaps many are. But Shonibare's piece gave an interesting perspective, one that in my anger over privilege and oppression it is easy for me to overlook. This doesn't mean that these men (and the countries/societies they represent) can be forgiven for claiming control of lands and people that they had absolutely no right to, but it is helpful for me in thinking about motivations behind oppression.
As much as I loved bell hooks' way of thinking about home and culture of belonging, it was somewhat comforting to see that people like Morton do not necessarily agree with that view of home/place - and it was also very confusing. For while I haven't experienced a culture of belonging first-hand, I want to believe such a thing is possible, and attainable for me. And at the same time, I am conscious of the very legitimate points made by Martin and Mohanty, who (from what I could gather from their complex language and sentence structures) argue that any community of sameness and comfort inherently shuts out others and makes oppression possible. Which sucks (to put it more bluntly). I can only assume that more oppression (akin to the Ku Klux Klan) is the last thing bell hooks would want, so how can I reconcile both of these ideas? And how does Morton's fit in, his criticism of "fixation on a place"? Maybe all that matters (to me) is how each of these arguments fits into my own understanding of home, place, and community as these things relate to environmentalism/social justice. For example, a community that is actively working to fight oppression might, on the way, exclude some voices, but if they are working hard to be anti-opressive (which, honestly many enviro-justice communities aren't, or think they are but get criticized for not doing enough) and simultaneously trying to end oppression of certain groups of people and/or the environment, maybe that's ok.
This is really cool and it reminded me of Ava's art in it's impermanence and its connection to natural mediums/forms.
i just wanted to let everyone know that my web event that was due today is a private post, so you'll have to be logged in to see it.
and since it was a private post, it didn't let me post pictures in it so here are two maps I referred to:
[NOTE: I spent a half an hour trying to resize my desired image so I could change my avatar and, since I'm currently on a windows computer that I don't know how to use, I couldn't figure it out. So I'm posting the image here and I'll work on changing it later tonight.]
For the last 360 I was in, my first interaction with Serendip, this was my avatar picture:
This is a picture of myself being strong and using my voice, and I chose it because I felt it represented myself and my activism and my power. I almost didn't change the picture for this semester, because I like this one so much, but I realized that this no longer represents where I am. I am not the same person I was at the beginning of that semester, because it was such a transformational experience for me. Today in class, with all the discussion about language and reading and words and communication and different understandings, backgrounds and experiences, I was reminded of a metaphor that has stayed with me ever since the end of the Women in Walled Communities 360.
(Sorry it took me a while to figure out how to get this in here as I made it in Word). This is an idea of a chart that I have as a way of thinking about the layerd and overlapping areas of knowledge that exist within our Cannery experience. My memo talks about a lot of what we discussed in class today, and I modified this diagram per Sarah's suggestion, adding another circle for the knowledge that comes with being in prison. The way I've placed the circles suggests that the knowledge we have from outside the Cannery classroom and the knowledge the incarcerated women have do not touch, something that we talked about today and were unsettled about. It makes me think about the quote from Sweeny about the rickety bridge between self and other. As you can see the two are almost overlapping but not quite. Is this accurate to our experience and does it allign with the rickety bridge idea?
I totally forgot to post my image and caption with my second Memo so here it is now:
I had been thinking a lot about the disconnect between how our incarcerated classmates see themselves as responsible for their positions vs. what we know about the injustices of the Prison Industrial System. In my memo I went back to the Graphic Novel (or whatever you call it), "Prisoners of a Hard Life" and in particular Ramona's story. She feels like she is to blame, like everything is her fault when in reality she is a victim of the system. I want the women we know to understand that, and at the same time I don't want to take away their agency. This is what I was grappling with in my memo.
On Saturday, the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) organized a Day of Action made up of 16 different actions at PNC Banks across 6 sates in the region, part of their campaign agains PNC's investments in companies that practice mountaintop removal coal mining. Bryn Mawr College had a very large role in this event, as the Bryn Mawr Earth Justice League's action was one of the largest with over 25 people attending. In our own little group (EJL) it sometimes feels like we're the only ones on campus doing this kind of activism, that Bryn Mawr as an institution, in its propoganda about fostering desire to make a meaningful contribution to the world, does not inspire in us while we are in college. We get the sense that, for the majority of the campus, academia far outweighs activism in importance, and we can put time into making the world a better place once we've graduated.