In Class/OutClassed

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Anne Dalke's picture

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.


Anne Dalke's picture

From Class to Caste??

In SAT Wars,  Joseph A. Soares (a sociology professor at Wake Forest and author of The Power of Privilege, an in-depth look at the history of admissions at Yale University) writes that the nation would be a better place without the big, bad tests that have long dominated the admissions world: “Our world is not best served by a test-score social Darwinism in support of a collegiate caste system" (from The Rigors and Rewards of Going Test-Optional, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 4, 2011).

alesnick's picture

Week Four of our Diablog: Take a Poll!

Welcome to our first Diablog Poll. Please make your selection and after you do, write a post explaining your selection and write a response to someone else's in which you raise a question to further your and their thinking.  Enjoy!

Sarah's picture

Example Interview I did

Hi everyone,

 

For a final project in my Empowering Learners class year, I conducted interviews with working mothers.  I didn't receive any formal prep for doing interviews, but I thought maybe showing you guys the email that I sent out to my potential interviewees would be helpful so I've copied and pasted below:

 

nbnguyen's picture

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education - A very interesting article that I want to share with our class

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

Print

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.

LJ's picture

Ideas for Friday's Forum

I would hope that the Friday forum would result in a better understanding of how to appreciate class differences on campus and how to be respectful of them. Despite anyone’s background we can still learn from one another and build really strong relationships and I think by understanding where someone comes from helps strengthen that relationship. I would also hope that the participants In addition, just acknowledging the fact that we are all facing life and life can really suck sometimes.

kganihanova's picture

Acts of kindness or acts of guilt?

We all receive emails about those with wealth donating money and starting charities. Call me a cynic but how many of these actions are motivated by guilt? The wealthy have more money than those below the poverty line obviously and our human empathy makes us want to help. However, to what extent? We all take pride in our possesions and as Adam Sandler's character in Just Go With It said, " Rich people don't stay rich by giving it all away." Again I ask how much of the charity in the world is motivated by guilt?

Anne Dalke's picture

prestige?

Syracuse's Slide and Syracuse, Selectivity, and ‘Old Measures' are just two in a series of fascinating, relevant articles recently published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, which describe how Syracuse University has sought to provide more opportunities for the town of Syracuse and for disadvantaged students--and as a result is falling in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of national universities: "Behold the power of the P word. The more applicants a college rejects, the more prestigious a college must be...how long can the citizens of academe go on thinking this way?"

And while I'm here, a coupla' more relevant pieces:
Are elite colleges worth it?  (by Pamela Haag in The Chronicle Review, 10/30/11: "The pleasures of rarity chafe against the democratic soul....") and Are Elite Colleges Worth It? Cornell economics professor weighs the value of higher education (by Joseph Murtaugh, Ithaca Times, February 23, 2011).

Anne Dalke's picture

Preparing for our on-campus workshop

From 2-3:15 on Friday, Nov 11, we'll be conducting an on-campus workshop in Rhoads Dining Hall. Jomaira, Sarah, Jody and Anne have come up w/ a "script" that involves an opening exercise, "mapping class on this campus," and a closing event, "looking forward." We've imagined opening by asking all participants to get into the spaces where we do our work, then asking them:
* where do you feel most yourself?
* how does this campus make you comfortable?
* what makes you feel that you belong?
* what space would you like to enter, that feels closed to you?

We've imagined closing by thinking forward:
* what space would you like here, that would make you more comfortable?
* what things could we do as individuals and as an institution to move forward w/ these ideas?

We heard in class on Thursday some of your responses to this proposal. Given what we've learned here so far, in our classes together, what (or what else) do you think we should do in this workshop we are hosting for others about  issues of class and education on campus? Please post your further thoughts about the workshop: feel free to put out your own ideas, and/or to respond to others; this is really where conversation happens (reminding ourselves here that we said we want to talk more w/ one another on-line!).

HSBurke's picture

Is Halloween classed?

In light of recent Halloween festivities, I was asked to write a memo for my Urban Soc class about the sociological aspects of Halloween. One of the factors I chose to focus on reminded me of ESem, so I chose to post a bit here. Let me know what you think! 

"What has occurred to me while writing this memo is that Halloween is also a very “classed” holiday. In order to participate, you must either A) buy candy to pass out or B) buy/craft a costume to wear. The very essence of the event all but excludes those who are money and/or time poor. In this way, the difference between a suburban Halloween and an urban Halloween can be quite different merely based on the socioeconomic background of the residents. I have always been fortunate to experience a very festive, community Halloween. However, celebrating the holiday in the city vs. in a suburban area is unique due to differences in access between urban and suburban dwellers."
Anne Dalke's picture

Week 3 of our dialogue-->now called DiaBlog!


Thanks to all for all our rich discussion, so far (see, below, our discussions from week 1 and week 2, about the surprises of our first visit together, and the need to be "certified" in life). Let's try, this week, writing even more directly about our own experiences. What is something in your life right now that you are passionate about learning or doing -- in or out of school? (If you'd like, find something on Google Image that represents your area of passion, and include the URL to that picture in your post.) In this way we can get to know each other better and also begin to think about how our passions connect with our educations. Enjoy!


Serena's picture

Perry House - Inclusion and Exclusion

For my essay, I chose to focus on the space and history of Perry House, which currently serves as the Black Cultural Center; student residence; and meetingplace for Sisterhood, Mujeres, and the Bryn Mawr African and Caribbean Student Organization (BACaSO).

In my paper I analysed it place for both inclusion and exclusion. While Perry House has always been a sort of safe haven for Black, African-American, and now Latina students, it also seems often to deter those who do not fit into these categories despite being a public space. Residence is open to all students, regardless  of race, but the predeterminant that you must be an active member of the cultural groups that meet at the space ensures that mostly women of those races live there. In addition to this, its detachment from the campus ensures that residents of the house are likewise relatively isolated from the rest of the campus.

HSBurke's picture

My Space

For this essay, the space I chose to write about was my dorm room. I spend most of my free time in the room, both studying and socializing. In this way, my space serves a dual purpose to meet both of my needs. The way I have decorated my room and they ways in which I use it indicate my goals for education at Bryn Mawr: to be a well-rounded student and maintain a balance between work and play. By comparing the image of my room to those we were shown by Jen Rajchel, I can see that the use of space, and thus students’ expectations for Bryn Mawr, have changed since M. Carey Thomas's time. In addition, I believe the class hierarchy that was connected with having more space and privacy no longer exists. The social aspect of college plays a pivotal role in my time spent here at Bryn Mawr, and unlike some of my predecessors, I am not ashamed of being labeled as lower class by my peers. 

snatarajan's picture

Intellectual Space and Privacy

I chose the nook and specifically the window seat as my location to examine. It is important to me because it has come to be the space where I spend the most of my time and slowly has come to be known as not just a public space for any Pem West 2nd residents, but as "my corner." I felt that this unconcious claiming of space was interesting especially because when thinking about the idea that privacy, even at Bryn Mawr, was a classed thing that had much to do with the amount of money that each student paid. I felt that I was breaking this previous connection between privacy and money, considering I am not the "ideal" student that Bryn Mawr was initially labeled for. At this same time, this spot makes me wonder about this institution at large, and I see here that money does indeed allow for greater intellectual space, as there are certain students who may not be able to afford the price of Bryn Mawr, and are as such, attending other institutions. Because I am here, claiming the space of the window seat, within this same institution, I wonder whether it is okay for me to be doing so, as I am not the white, upper class, rich student that Bryn Mawr College, as a space, was created for. It was this tension that made me want to further examine a place that I feel to be more of a home than my own room.

snatarajan's picture

Intellectual Space and Privacy

I chose the nook and specifically the window seat as my location to examine. It is important to me because it has come to be the space where I spend the most of my time and slowly has come to be known as not just a public space for any Pem West 2nd residents, but as "my corner." I felt that this unconcious claiming of space was interesting especially because when thinking about the idea that privacy, even at Bryn Mawr, was a classed thing that had much to do with the amount of money that each student paid. I felt that I was breaking this previous connection between privacy and money, considering I am not the "ideal" student that Bryn Mawr was initially labeled for. At this same time, this spot makes me wonder about this institution at large, and I see here that money does indeed allow for greater intellectual space, as there are certain students who may not be able to afford the price of Bryn Mawr, and are as such, attending other institutions. Because I am here, claiming the space of the window seat, within this same institution, I wonder whether it is okay for me to be doing so, as I am not the white, upper class, rich student that Bryn Mawr College, as a space, was created for. It was this tension that made me want to further examine a place that I feel to be more of a home than my own room.

lijia577's picture

Space and Elitism.

 I talked about the relationship between space and elitism. The setting of the reading room inside Thomas Great Hall, reflects the intention of founders. The setting remained largely the “Quaker-lady Design” in which scholars can find a nice fireplace, digesting a fabulous book on a cold winter night. Through this photo, one can imagine the typical setting of rooms in Bryn Mawr College in 19th century. The education provided at that time tended to be more philosophical than pragmatic. The cloistered setting created a place to nurture leaders and liberal thinkers, fostering elitism exclusively in white without separating women’s culture. However, as time went by, the fact of having all white student bodies changed and Bryn Mawr took a move toward greater diversity. The space and designing did reflect the characteristics of elitism, a symbol of upper class; however, it just reflected the founders’ intended educational purpose while the spirits and direction of a college must be alterable to adapt the time change.

jrschwartz15's picture

A Thinking Place

This is the pond at Rhoads Beach. I chose this image because of the fact that this space simultaniously counts as opened and closed. It is open because there are no walls, no ceilings, no doors. It is natural, bright, and welcoming. This provides room for thought and creativity. It is, however, somewheat secluded. It is set at the bottom of the hill of Rhoads Beach and surrounded by trees. It is also a farily solitary area as not too many people can fit on the small brige-like structure. I go here for reflection and relaxation. It's a very serene place and does offer the comfort of solice. This balance between free and isolated is ideal for me and why this spot on campus is so important to me.

Michaela's picture

Rock Hallway (PHOTO ATTACHED)

I chose to focus my essay on the my hallway in Rock, and the way it fits into mine and my friends and hallmates academic and classed lives because it is a space where those often individual pursuits become shared. In the hallway, we participate in intellectual conversations and help one another with homework. We are de-classed and re-classed as we leave our possessions behind in our rooms (save for our laptops, often), but we are in a very privileged place together of being able to attend Bryn Mawr and spend the amount of time that we do (which is a lot) just socializing outside of our rooms.

lissiem's picture

Campus shaping our attitudes

I chose to focus my paper on Pem Arch because it symbolizes the official entrance into Bryn Mawr, where students walk through and feel like true Bryn Mawr women.  But for me, it’s also the place where I feel like I am leaving the real world and entering Bryn Mawr’s own atmosphere, one that intensely focuses on individual academics and not on the world as a whole.  Pem Arch really stood out to me as being a symbolic space on campus because M. Carey Thomas built the campus to be secluded from the outside world, and built it knowing that personality reflects space. In my paper I grappled with the fact that M. Carey seemed to almost manipulate our experience here at Bryn Mawr and whether that manipulation hinders or enhances our educational experience.  

gfeliz's picture

My Space

For this essay, I chose to discuss a bench that overlooks Shillingford Field. I had a lot of trouble trying to describe how this space is lawfully public but private at the same time and how education and class play a role in this space as well. It was interesting for me to really think about how privacy is viewed in terms of space--for example, when people have to pay for a space (like the rooms of Bryn Mawr as Carey Thomas described), privacy and space are both viewed differently. Privacy implies wealth thus implying greater class--but my space eliminates wealth and class issues. I found myself questioning, then why is it that when class is gone, students can have a better education? Because in my space, I find that works becomes more pleasurable. This dichotomous space that eliminates class allows students to focus on their education and not worry about class issues which I find interesting because it is a public AND private space. 

*PICTURE IS ATTACHED*

MVW1993's picture

Space

I chose to write my essay on the make-shift “window seat” in my room. It’s really more of a window ledge, but it’s just wide enough for me to sit on while I read, write, and study. It’s a place where I feel very much at peace and I feel that I belong there, thus it seemed a fitting location to base my essay off of. The view from my window looks out onto Wyndham – the food service institution where I, as a work-study student, am employed. This fact made me reflect on the idea that, in M. Carey Thomas’s time, I would not have been able to attend Bryn Mawr, which forced me to contemplate where and if I fit into this campus. Furthermore, I came to the conclusion that, though some people see working on campus as an inconvenience, I find it to be a very rewarding experience that prepares me for “the real world” outside of the cloister of Bryn Mawr. Additionally, I think that my work-study program actually motivates me in terms of my academic studies, as it is a reminder that I am working to pay for my education and thus I need to get the most out of it that I can.