Welcome to InClass/OutClassed: On the Uses of a Liberal Education, an Emily Balch Seminar offered in Fall 2011 @ Bryn Mawr College. This is an interestingly different kind of place for writing, and may take some getting used to. The first thing to keep in mind is that it's not a site for "formal writing" or "finished thoughts." It's a place for thoughts-in-progress, for what you're thinking (whether you know it or not) on your way to what you think next. Imagine that you're just talking to some people you've met. This is a "conversation" place, a place to find out what you're thinking yourself, and what other people are thinking. The idea here is that your "thoughts in progress" can help others with their thinking, and theirs can help you with yours.
So who are you writing for? Primarily for yourself, and for others in both sections of our course. But also for the world. This is a "public" forum, so people anywhere on the web might look in. That's the second thing to keep in mind here. You're writing for yourself, for others in the class, AND for others you might or might not know. So, your thoughts in progress can contribute to the thoughts in progress of LOTS of people. The web is giving increasing reality to the idea that there can actually evolve a world community, and you're part of helping to bring that about.
We're glad to have you along, and hope you come to both enjoy and value our shared exploration of class, in education and outside it. Fee free to comment on any post below, or to POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE.
Hi, my name is Chandrea. I'm from the Greater Boston area. I'm looking forward to participating in candid discussions in this class and maybe even some debates! After our discussion about classification, I thought it was really interesting that most of us described ourselves based on our personalities. I described myself as Asian American, a Freshman, and part of the working class. I don't know why I did that, and I'm curious if this class will help me understand why I was so quick to describe myself in those ways.
Hello everyone! My name is Morgan Widuch and I am from La Crosse, Wisconsin. La Crosse is a small, yet very beautiful city located right in between the Mississippi River and a range of bluffs. I absolutely love my hometown, for though small, it offers a wide array of wonderful activities; my favorites include biking on the Hixon Forrest Nature trails, hiking up the bluffs, canoeing, hanging out with my friends by the River, and frequenting the local coffee shops located in our historic downtown area. As much as I love my hometown though, I am excited to be in Bryn Mawr and studying here at this beautiful campus.
Through this course, I am looking to gain a better understanding of the education system in America, what is wrong with it, and how it can be improved. I first became interested in this course after seeing the movie “Waiting for Superman” which discusses the problems that our education system is facing today. One of the very important focus points of the movie was the idea that a person’s education is largely dependent upon class.
I am very interested in continuing to examine the idea of class and how we classify ourselves, throughout this course. In our discussion yesterday, we observed that the majority of us tend to classify ourselves by what makes us distinct or gives us our uniqueness. I find it very interesting then, that when we examine others whom we do not know, we tend to first classify them first by that which is easily visible to the eye.
Hi All! I’m Meg Sumner-Moore and I’m from a small town in the San Francisco Bay Area. I would say that my education started at church camp during my middle school summers. That’s where I started to learn more about the world and living a meaningful and compassionate life in this crazy world of ours. My education definitely continued in middle and high school, when I attended a school that was founded by hippies in the 1960s. My high school has more of a “whole person” approach to education. In addition to preparing students for college, the curriculum also focused on unconventional subjects, such as outdoor adventure, environmental stewardship, and international and multicultural understanding.
Hello! My name is Laura James. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia but for the past four years I have been living in Dubai. Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates which borders Saudi Arabia and Oman. I moved there because my dad is a pilot with Emirates. Living in Dubai was the best experience I have had. When I am finished with school I might move back to Dubai or another part of the Middle East or Africa. From this seminar I am looking strengthen my writing skills and learn more about the struggles that different classes have. I am especially interested in the disparities between schools across classes. The issues I noticed in our first class discussion that most of us were nervous about giving ourselves categories that we had no control over. Absolutely no one categorized themselves in an economic class or race and very few people categorized themselves by gender or size. Though, it was good that as individuals we cared more about what was “on the inside” it nonetheless displayed our fear of that type of classification.
I'm Pan Hu from Beijing, China. I studied at a private international high school which teaches IB program. It's kind of unique in China because all the Chinese local schools teach students in order to help them get through a BIG exam which named GAOKAO. It is extremely tough because it's not a pass/not pass exam, it's a ranking exam, and it can only be taken once. Just a small percentage of students who did well on that exam can go to the those great Universities, otherwise they will fail.
My name is Michaela, and I am from Maryland, about a stone's throw away from our nation's capital, DC. I have one sister, Abby, who graduated from BMC in 2010, and who, along with the rest of my immediate family, I am very close with. I have lived in the same house my whole life, and gone to both a few so-so private schools to my better years of education in the public school district, regarded nationally as very competitive and advanced. I have always been studious, and so my education at my high school was very satisfying and rewarding. However, even as I received (or claimed, as we are now tasked to do) my education there, I noticed the discrepancies in the underlying realities of how well diverse groups of students were expected to, and thus did, perform in their schoolwork. Low expectations all too often led to low grades,scores, etc. in a sort of vicious cycle.
This is one of the many reasons that I am so excited to come to Bryn Mawr. Despite our socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, and other classifications that we discussed in class yesterday, we are all here to claim a terrific liberal arts education. Though we may at times define ourselves by these classifications, I believe that within the classroom, our devotion to learning will outwit these pre-set boundaries, and give us the opportunity to express our unique perspectives in the form of discussion, writing, etc.
My name is Sam Saludades. My family is from the Philippines; however, I am part of the first generation to be born here in the US. I lived in Moorestown, a small town in Southern Jersey which is a short Patco train ride away from Philadelphia. For 12 years, I spent the majority of my education at a small private Quaker school. Up until middle school, the student population was predominantly white; however, in middle school, the school established a new initiative to promote and encourage diversity, recruiting more people of color and of different socioeconomic backgrounds which interestingly and positively changed the dynamic of the classroom and community. In any case, as a result of my educational experience, I developed an interest in how people's backgrounds affect who they interact with, how they interact with others, their approach to obtaining knowledge and education, and in turn, their outlook on the world which is why I was very excited to take this class.
My name is Tanya Hamid and I am from Broomall, Pennsylvania, about twenty minutes from Bryn Mawr College. I am an only child. You can all imagine what it was like for my parents to drop me off at my dorm last week.
Hi everyone, I'm Ellen Li from Jinan, China. This is my first time in America, excited!!
The high school I attended is one of the best public schools in china, which has the most 5400 outstanding students from different junior high schools in the city. We don’t have much diversity there, everyone has the same skin color, comes from the same city, and has the same goal: get great grades in Gaokao, the college entrance examination (like SAT in America) for high school students. We always studied hard, and never played hard. But I knew it's not what I want. I want to learn more about myself by joining different clubs and organizations; I want to learn more about the world by talking to people from different backgrounds. I want to experience more before I get too old to move, rather than spending most of my day doing math practising books. Therefore, I came to America for my college education.
I still don't know I want to major in right now. I like math and biology very much, but I also have strong interests in social sciences such as political science and economics. But I think I will figure out some day in the future.
Hi everybody! My name is Jordan Schwartz and I'm from Atlanta, GA. I plan to study a combination of sciences that will include a little biology to continue on to law school for bioethics. Also as a huge theatre dork I plan to be in the Shakespeare troupe and having swam competatively all of middle school and high school, I hope to join the BMC swim team. Can't wait to get to know all of you better through the esem :)
Hello one in all, following the stream of fellow classmates I will keep this brief. I was born in Boston and raised in a suburb outside of Boston, Somerville. I live with my mom who is originally from England, my two brothers one who is a registered nurse and the other about to start 2nd grade.
I spent my earlier days at catholic school, where at the end of fifth grade the school shut down due to lack of student enrollment. From there, I went to Prospect Hill Academy Charter School. About a train stop away from Harvard University, I spent the rest of my middle school and high school years there. PHA is unique tha t on paper its an urban school with over 70% is black, specifically Haitian, the other percentages are made up of Hispanic and then white. But in reality, PHA is a college-prepatory school dedicated to getting us all to college. And every year about 99% go to college. The 1% going to either the army or community college.
Education has always been a big thing in my family seeing as my older brother went to medical school and that my mother has been an educator for more than 20 years.
I hope this was a good introduction!
My name is Jillian Harmon and I'm from a few different places I call home. My primary home is in Ithaca, NY, where I live with a friend outside of Cornell's campus. I've come to love Ithaca for its quirky hippies who walk their pigs down the street and beautiful gorges that integrate well with the city and connect me to nature. I also live in Spencer, NY, a rural one-stoplight town 30 minutes from Ithaca. This is my home town, although I feel little connection to it. Lastly, my birth mother is from the Philippines, but today she lives in Chicago. Growing up in three distinct environments (small city, rural town, giant metropolis) gave me a lot to reflect upon as I was growing up. I've always been curious about the way people see themselves within their environment and the cultures and attitudes of each of the places I've lived. Listening to viewpoints ranging from democrat and liberal (Ithaca) to republican and conservative (Spencer) have really led me to challenge what I believe in and why I believe it.
My name is Sophia and I have a somewhat unique experience in that I came from one of New York City's "Specialized High Schools." For those who are less familiar, the "Specialized High Schools" are a group of nine New York City public schools which restrict admission based on the sores of a single exam (the Specialized High School Admissions Test, or SHSAT). My school was larger than Bryn Mawr – with about 730 students in my class alone, and over three thousand students total. Of these, most students were focused on Math, Science, or Technology – as that's what the school itself emphasizes. In this, I was a bit of a black sheep. Instead, I focused on my interests in the humanities and my love of reading, writing, and history grew.
I’m Elissa Matheny. I grew up in Durham, New Hampshire, a small university town. However, this summer my parents moved to St. Louis, so now I have a new home in the Midwest, quite a different experience from New England. I’m really excited to be in In Class/Outclassed because although I’ve never considered myself interested in becoming an educator, I’ve discovered a recent fascination for learning about educational reform in America.
My names Amy Giarratana, and I’m from Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and I attended Ramapo High School. I’m obviously a freshmen and I live in Pem East in a quad. Literally all I’m looking for right now are my classes and hoping not to get lost. But in a less literal sense, I’m just looking for a education suitable for me and trying to experience college life as much as I can. Honestly I didn’t understand where Foucault was coming from in The Order of Things. I assumed when he was quoting the Chinese encyclopedia he meant that “animals” were actually people. Such as the stray dogs, I thought he meant poor people, or drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, meaning wealthy people. I don’t think this is where he was coming from at all, so his writing wasn’t my favorite to try and interpret. I’m not a good writer so I hope I gain writing experience from this class.
I’m Jody Cohen, teacher of one of the ESem sections, and I’ll introduce myself by sharing a piece of my educational autobiography. I grew up in a suburb outside Washington, D.C.
... of my (rather checkered!) educational autobiography. I'm Anne Dalke, one of the profs for this ESem. I was raised in the rural south, where I attended (pretty poor) K-12 public schools; spent a year in the 13th grade of a girls' school, as an exchange student in northernmost Germany; returned to the States to attend the College of William and Mary -- feeling aggrieved because the better state school, UVa, wasn't taking women in those days (!!); however, the tuition cost was only $500/semester! I majored in English (I'd always liked to read, and I was dating a man who kept writing poems that I didn't know how to respond to...).