Learning in Institutional Spaces

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 From Hack Education

      Jody Cohen, Education 290
      Learning in Institutional Spaces

      Bryn Mawr College, Fall 2012

      TTh 12:45-2:15


     This class is part of a cluster of three courses in a new
     360° called Women in Walled Communities: Silence, Voice,
     Vision
,  which focuses on the constraints and agency of
     individual actors in the institutional settings of women's
     colleges and prison

Protected Reading File

Our on-line conversation: for the whole 360 and for Voice alone

Cohen course notes

Instructions for Preparing Your Final 360° Portfolio


“…feminism has already made a difference….On the other hand, that difference has opened up and brought into view the energies of contradiction hidden inside the unsayability of what feminism has now given voice to. Once women begin to speak, we begin to differ with each other….” (Barbara Johnson: The Feminist Difference)

“Dialogue supposes that I am an autonomous, individual, complete subject—and that so are you.  Otherwise, why would dialogue be necessary?  It is our solitude that makes communication both necessary, and a big problem.  How do I connect with you across the disparities in our private realms?” (Elizabeth Ellsworth: Teaching Positions)

 

This course will consider how two “walled communities,” the institutions of schools and prisons, operate as sites of various kinds of learning, particularly for girls and women. How do such institutions, defined as “places of care or confinement,” interact with the human beings within their scope, both constraining and propelling their learning?  And how do human beings act as agents in, on, and beyond such social institutions? 

Beginning with an examination of the origins of educational and penitential institutions, we will study together the evolving purposes, structures, and practices that characterize these spaces.   How have the experiences of being inside the walls of K-12 schooling or in the cloistered space of a college such as Bryn Mawr evolved over time, particularly for girls and women?  What of the learning that has gone on in prisons, in both intentional, programmatic contexts and individually, as we hear in writings from and about these walled spaces?  How is “voice” suppressed and how does it emerge in these gated institutions?  How do marks of social and cultural identity, difference, and power operate in these arenas? How are they re-presented, performed, reified, and resisted?

This course investigates the role of “voice”--speaking out, expressing, engaging in dialogue—in teaching and learning:  In what ways can “voice” instigate understanding and even change, and how is this notion also complex and problematic?  We will consider official, explicit curriculae for learning, alongside implicit, even hidden curriculae; how do people inside these spaces collude with, subvert, and challenge these curriculae as they create their own agendas for learning?  And we seek instances of “wall-crossing,” educational, research, and activist agendas that deliberately cross the boundaries of institutions in efforts that empower learners and engender change.  What kinds of links and alliances might we develop across institutions that have been so deliberately separated in the contemporary world?

The approach we take here is premised on the assumption that we all bring to the classroom our prior knowledge, diverse life experiences, and experiences as learners and teachers.  The goal of this seminar is to create a space in which, through discussions, reading, writing, and activities, we are able to develop our awareness of the challenges and possibilities of learning in and about “walled spaces” and also impacting the worlds of and beyond those spaces; we will work closely with the other 360 ° courses to develop our imaginations and sense of efficacy in relation to these issues.

Learning Outcomes:

This course seeks to develop participants’ knowledge, skills, and awareness of the following areas:

  • Conceptual underpinnings and evolution of educational and penitentiary institutions as “walled” sites of education;
  • theoretical foundations and practice-based application of learning in, about, and around social/institutional contexts, including ways that gendered, raced, and classed identities inform structures and practices;
  • approaches to using education-related strategies as part of community-based efforts to impact learning and empowerment inside and outside institutional “walls.”

Course Policies

  • This course will involve students as critical readers and writers of texts, active participants in class discussions, and participants in other education-related settings.  Your presence and active engagement are essential. If the need arises for you to miss a class, be late or leave early, please call or email me ahead of time if possible.
  • If there is a reason why you cannot complete a paper by the due date, speak to me about an extension BEFORE the date that the paper is due.  Please limit your use of this option to one paper.
  • Course papers may be revised and re-submitted.  Please consult with me on the revision process.  Revisions are due the last day of classes.
  • In all written assignments, please take care to edit and proofread your work so that needless errors do not distract readers from the strength of your thinking.

Students who think they may need accommodations in this course because of the impact of a disability are encouraged to meet with me privately early in the semester.  Students who attend Bryn Mawr should also contact Stephanie Bell, Coordinator of Access Services, at sbell@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7351 as soon as possible, to verify eligibility for reasonable accommodations.  Haverford Students should contact Rick Webb, Coordinator, Office of Disabilities Services, at rwebb@haverford.edu or 610-896-1290. 

Readings will include the following texts, available at Canaday and via the Bryn Mawr Bookstore:

Erica Meiners, Right to Be Hostile: Schools, Prisons, and the Making of Public Enemies

Megan Sweeney, Reading is My Window: Books and the Art of Reading in Women’s Prisons

Maisha Winn, Girl Time: Literacy, Justice, and the School-To-Prison Pipeline

 

I. (Weeks 1-4)  Conceptual frames: language, voice, dialogue; education and/in prison; gender, desire

Week 1
Day 1 (T, Sept. 4): Entering…

** EVERY WED. BY 5 PM (except where noted on syllabus) PLEASE POST ON OUR ON-LINE FORUM IN RESPONSE TO OUR READINGS AND CONVERSATIONS: sometimes there will be a prompt, other times this writing will be open-ended; sometimes you’ll initiate writing, others times you’ll respond to others’ posts.


Day 2 (Th, Sept. 6): Embodying language

Anna Deveare Smith, Introduction, Fires in the Mirror and

Michelle Cliff, “A Journey into Speech” in Negotiating Academic Literacies (in our password protected file)

Week 2

Day 3 (T, Sept. 11): Voice and dialogue
Alison Cook-Sather,  “Sound, Presence, and Power: Student Voice in Educational Research and Reform” and Mary Louise Pratt, “Arts of the Contact Zone” in Negotiating Academic Literacies (in our password protected file).

**WED. POST


Day 4 (Th, Sept. 13): Voice and dialogue

Shor and Freire, "What is the 'Dialogical Method' of Teaching?' in A Pedagogy for Liberation (in our password protected file).

Elizabeth Ellsworth, Introduction, chap. 1 in Teaching Positions (in our password protected file).

Week 3
Day 5 (T, Sept. 18): Schooling

Joel Spring, excerpt from The American School (in our password protected file) and

John Dewey, “My Pedagogic Creed,” http://dewey.pragmatism.org/creed.htm

 **WED. POST

Day 6 (Th, Sept. 20): Schooling in prison

Raymond Jones and Peter d’Errico, “The Paradox of Higher Education in Prisons” and

Walter Silva, “A Brief History of Prison Education in the United States” in Higher Education in Prison(in our password protected file)

Week 4
Day 7 (T, Sept. 25): Questioning identities

Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution” in The Routledge Falmer Reader in Gender Education

Laurie Finke, "Knowledge as Bait" (in our password protected file)

**WED. POST

Day 8 (Th, Sept. 27):

Eve Tuck, “Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities” (in our password protected file)

Due Sun. Sept. 30 by 5 pm

Assignment #1:  Pose and address a question/dilemma/claim about “voice” and the classroom, or, more broadly, about voice and learning. (3-5 pp.)

 

II.  Education in schools, colleges, prisons:

Weeks 5-6: Schools and prisons: Learning in and about institutional spaces

Week 5
Day 9 (T, Oct. 2):

Erica Meiners, Right to Be Hostile, introduction and chaps. 1 & 2

Day 10 (Th, Oct. 4):

Erica Meiners, Right to Be Hostile, chap. 3

Week 6:

Day 11 (T, Oct. 9):

Meiners, Right to Be Hostile, chap. 5

Maisha Winn, Girl Time, Act IV (pp. 107-120)

** FOR WED., OCT. 8, 10 pm:  Find (or create) and POST on Serendip one or several images/film clips/song clips or sounds that represent schools and/or prisons. 

Day 12 (Th, Oct. 11):

Cara Tratner, chap. 3 in From Domination to Liberation: Blurring the Lines between Prisons and Schools

View/listen to/watch some of our postings.


FALL BREAK (Oct. 12-21)

Weeks 7-8: Learning in walled communities I:  Women’s prisons

Week 7
Day 13 (T, Oct. 23): 

Megan Sweeney, Reading is My Window, Introduction and chap. 1

Jodi Schorb, "Reading Prisoners on the Scaffold" and excerpts from Smith, "Harry Hawser's Fate" in Buried Lives (in our password protected file)

**WED.:  Select and reflect on one or more of the visuals/clips posted during week 6 to illuminate your evolving understanding of the relationship between schools and prisons. Use our shared texts and discussions along with your own thinking/feeling/experiences, as needed. Post your papers online with clear indication of the visuals etc. that you're reflecting on.  (3 pp.) 


Day 14 (Th, Oct. 25):
Megan Sweeney, Reading is My Window, chap. 2


Week 8

Day 15 (T, Oct. 30):

Megan Sweeney, Reading is My Window, chap. 3


Day 16 (Th, Nov. 1):

Sweeney,Interlude 1 or Interlude 2


Weeks 9-10: Learning in walled communities II:  Women’s colleges

Note:  During this segment of the course you’ll develop a research interest in relation to Bryn Mawr as an instance of “women in walled communities,” and you’ll spend some time in Canaday’s Archives and/or using digital or other sources to investigate.  We’ll share some of what we learn in class, and you’ll use your own and, if you’d like, others’ research for assignment #3 (below).

Week 9

Day 17 (T, Nov. 6): 

Read Sweeney, EITHER chap. 4 OR chap. 5, AND

Karlene Faith, excerpt from “Education for Empowerment” in Unruly Women (in our password protected file)

OR

Ezren, “Wise Women” in Interrupted Life (in our password protected file)


Day 18 (Th, Nov. 8)
:  ***We'll meet in Canaday's Special Collections Seminar Room on the 2nd floor***

Consider possible focuses for BMC-related research project (see above).

Helen Horowitz, A Certain Style of “Quaker Lady” Dress” and “Behold They Are Women” in Alma Mater and

Eric Pumroy, “Bryn Mawr College” in Founded by Friends (in our password protected file).

Just to give you a sense of what's available digitally:

http://greenfield.brynmawr.edu/

archive.org/details/brynmawrcollege

http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/

http://repository.brynmawr.edu/

http://triceratops.brynmawr.edu/dspace/

Week 10
Day 19 (T, Nov. 13): 

To be posted on serendip by Wed., Nov. 28: Assignment #3: 

Consider these questions to guide your presentation of research on BMC:  How is your own and/or your classmates' research informing your understanding of the ‘walled community’ of Bryn Mawr College?  How are you coming to understand women’s prisons and colleges as similar and/or different?  As enhancing and/or diminishing of learning?  Use written text or another format (we'll discuss options) to address one or more of these questions. (This might be a precursor or warm-up for your final project.)

Your BMC-related research

Joan Johnson, “From Homesick Southerners to Independent Yankees” in Southern Women at the Seven Sister Colleges and

Linda Perkins, “The African American Female Elite” in Minding Women: Reshaping the Educational Realm (in our password protected file).

Share your research findings in progress.

Day 20 (Th, Nov. 15):

Karen Tidmarsh, “The Highly Practical Liberal Arts” and

Jane Tompkins, “The Cloister and the Heart” in A Life in School (in our password protected file)


Share your research findings in progress.

III.  (Weeks 11-14) Creating hybrid spaces in/around institutions:  Literacy, theatre, and research

Week 11

Day 21 (T, Nov. 20):

Maisha Winn, Girl Time, Prologue and Act I

To be posted on serendip by Fri., Nov. 30: Assignment #3: 

Consider these questions to guide your presentation of research on BMC:  How is your own and/or your classmates' research informing your understanding of the ‘walled community’ of Bryn Mawr College?  How are you coming to understand women’s prisons and colleges as similar and/or different?  As enhancing and/or diminishing of learning?  Use written text or another format (we'll discuss options) to address one or more of these questions. (This might be a precursor or warm-up for your final project.)


Thanksgiving Break (Th, Nov. 22)

Week 12

Day 22 (T, Nov. 27):

Maisha Winn, Girl Time, Acts II and III


Day 23 (Th, Nov. 29):

Winn, Acts III and V, and Talk-Back/Talk-With


Post on serendip by Fri., Nov. 30: Assignment #3: 

Consider these questions to guide your presentation of research on BMC:  How is your own and/or your classmates' research informing your understanding of the ‘walled community’ of Bryn Mawr College?  How are you coming to understand women’s prisons and colleges as similar and/or different?  As enhancing and/or diminishing of learning?  Use written text or another format (we'll discuss options) to address one or more of these questions. (This might be a precursor or warm-up for your final project.)

Week 13

BY MON. @ 5:  Post a response to one or more of our BMC research projects.

Day 24 (T, Dec. 4): 

Read/view all BMC research projects on serendip.

Also read:  Fine et. al, "Participatory Action Research: From Within and Beyond Prison Bars" in Working Method (in our password protected file).

Day 25 (Th, Dec. 6):
Megan Sweeney, Reading is My Window, chap. 6 & Conclusion


IV. FINAL "TEACH-INS"
Days 26-27 (T, Dec. 11-Th, Dec. 13): sharing with the larger community what we have been learning

 



 

 

 

 

 

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