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.

LJ's picture

My Study Space


I decided to take my photo in Canaday library because that's where I do most of my studying. In my paper I discussed how comfortable and accepted I feel when I'm in the library. Furthermore, this is exactly what M. Carey Thomas wanted the library space to accomplish. However, do I feel accepted in the space because I would have been somewhat accepted during M. Carey Thomas's time? I am curious if students who do not fit the stereo type that M. Carey Thomas wanted feel as comfortable as I do? In addition, is Bryn Mawr today as diverse as we claim to be? As Sarah pointed out in class, only thirteen percent of the student that attend Bryn Mawr have a family income of $60,000 or less. I hardly think of this as true diversity.


*Picture is attached below.

ssaludades's picture


There is a sense of belonging when it comes to one’s class. People from the same class usually hold a shared understanding of certain values, lifestyles. Being with these people from the same class who can understand these aspects about an individual can provide that individual with a sense of comfort and natural companionship. It’s feelings like this that helps to develop a sense of community and ‘home’. 

In consideration to this, in approaching this essay I began to think of what my home meant to me and where I could find it at Bryn Mawr. At my ‘actual’ home, the meal time acted as a valuable retreat for my family. At the table, we would detach from what happened in our external lives and bring the focus to this communal moment. Thus, I decided to write about how mealtime contributes to the relationships within a class and affects interactions between classes and how the space is utilized to foster this growth.

melal's picture


The space that I pick up is the nook on the third floor of Denbigh, my residential hall. As a common space for students living on the third floor, nook is a part of my life: I do my readings at nook, I skype with my parents at nook, and, the most important, it was nook at that I started to learn how to “social” with other students, in an American way. The nook is like cultural classroom, what happened there taught me how to fit myself in a different culture. As you can see in the picture, the nook was decorated as a space for people gathering together and having some casual chatting. In order to celebrate Halloween, it was decorated by using pumpkins, skeletons and sparking lights. More important, I regard the nook as a space for me to learn more about American culture through intellectual conversations or just some casual conversations I have with different people. I think it is nook that helps me fit myself into the new cultural environment. 

The Nook

Hummingbird's picture

My Semi-Public Space


I chose the first floor hallway of Denbigh for my space. I spend a lot of time there, working and socializing, so it felt appropriate to consider. After picking it though, I realized that there was quite a dichotomous nature to the hallway, as it belonged to and was used by two different groups of people. During the day, members of the staff work in the hallway, cleaning the dorm itself. In the evenings, it's used by the residents as study and social space. I found the difference between the two uses and groups of people particularly interesting because the hallway is perhaps the one space the groups may intersect.  

thamid's picture

Reclaiming Space

I chose to take pictures of my room because it is where I spend the most time on campus. I took many shots of different perspectives of the room. After reading passages about M. Carey Thomas, I felt that I did not belong in my room because I was not the typical "Bryn Mawr girl" she was looking for but, I am still a student here. My paper revolves around the spaces that M. Carey Thomas envisioned for the women of Bryn Mawr and how I reclaim and re-shape those spaces to fit my education at Bryn Mawr. Although I reclaimed my space at Bryn Mawr, I still feel a sense of disconnect because M. Carey plays a major role in Bryn Mawr’s history and so many of the women here look up to her. It’s difficult to say whether I will truly feel a whole sense of belonging to the Bryn Mawr community.


P.S.-My pictures are on an attached word document because they exceeded 1 MB so I could not upload them, but check them out!

Utitofon's picture

The imbalance in our shared space

I chose this image because the Campus Centre was my first stop at Bryn Mawr and the events of my first day within that space affected my expectations of how my experience at Bryn Mawr would unfold.  In my paper, I discussed how the current admission status of international students creates a racial imbalance within our shared space. This inequality depletes the amount of cultural capital available to us as an institution and within the classroom. As a natural consequence, we experience more clumping than integration. In addition, there is a dichotomy in the makeup of faculty in comparison to the dining services and housekeeping staff. This situation traces back to what obtained in Bryn Mawr’s early years. Therefore, Bryn Mawr College is still quite classed in terms of the racial diversity of its population and the roles they perform on campus. I concluded by indicating that though we have made progress from what obtained 40 years ago, there is much room for improvement.

S. Yaeger's picture

On Not Having A Personal Space On Campus

For my paper, I chose the above photo of the door to the McBride lounge in the basement of Radnor.  I wasn't really thinking about the psychology of that choice at the time, but I wonder now if I picked it because my lack of a personal space on campus makes me feel a little shut out of campus life.  My paper is centered around how not living on campus creates a natural barrier between me and some of the social aspect of campus life, but also creates a different kind of space in which the McBrides offer support and understanding of one another.  Though most of us do not have a dorm room, we do have a place that is just ours, shared though it may be, and the ability to form a sort of family untit for each other.  This, to me, makes us space poor and space rich at once.

Chandrea's picture

My Personal Space



For some reason, I had a lot of difficulty writing about this particular subject. I was fascinated by Bryn Mawr's history and the story behind its architecture and students but I felt so disconnected that I didn't know how it applied to my personal space, which was my room. I ended up describing my room and the comfort I feel when I'm in it, and how I'm learning to accept it as a version of my home away from "home". I wrote about the importance of living on campus and how much better a college experience one has in comparison to a student living off-campus. When size and price of the rooms play a huge role in how one interacts with others at college, I could see how isolated a student who had to live off-campus would've felt. I feel spoiled.

I actually got around to investigating who lived in my room before my roommate and I moved in by reading the mini plaques bolted to the walls and it seems that Mildred Durand was the first ever to live in my room in 1905. And then I wondered if she brought along her house maid... 

JHarmon's picture

Space as Symbol

My thesis revolved around the idea of space as a symbol. Just as nbnguyen found that her desk was a reflection of herself and her personal philosophy of what an intellectual space is, I based my argument around ways that institutions reflect their values through their architecture. As time moves forward, public libraries move from being silent areas of self improvement to more collaborative areas that feature more than just spaces to study (modern libraries have computers, counseling, language classes, etc.). At Bryn Mawr, our space is a symbol of its values and aspirations of its students. I used Goodhart Hall as my example because I love its location and landscape, but the idea extends to virtually anywhere on campus. Goodhart's collegiate gothic architecture evokes a sense of upper class, power and masculinity, yet the landscape gives it a much more feminine feel. Overall, the architecture, placement, and use of Goodhart says a lot about the goals of Bryn Mawr and its students. 

nbnguyen's picture

My intellectual space

meggiekate's picture

Outside Space at BMC

I choose this space because it was outside with no visible man-made structures around. I noticed that we focused a lot in class on the buildings at Bryn Mawr and various rooms inside, but we didn’t discuss this entire other part that makes up campus. I also have found it very interesting how outside spaces are not really used or set up for schoolwork or classes. It seems like outdoor spaces are set aside for more socializing and relaxing activities, while classes and learning take place inside. To me, this separation is reflective of society not valuing education that takes place outside of schools (i.e. street smarts). I’ve also found the learning that takes place inside a classroom is very different from the learning that takes place outside the classroom (but while still in class, like on a field trip). It’s more experiential and to me, it can be more impactful and I can learn a lot more outside of classroom spaces. I think every space has the potential to be place for learning and education. Outside spaces, to me, seem more accessible for learning than inside spaces, especially at Bryn Mawr with all of the grand, imposing buildings. 

thamid's picture

Response to PHS student

I feel as though you

I feel as though you shouldn't have to pay for a role in society , nor should you have to be certified in order to be successful. Why should you have to be certified in order to be successful? Just because you have a piece of paper that says your certified for something doesn't make you smarter then another person in society that knows the same subject that you majored in. It just means that you had the chance to further your education because you had the funds or nothing to hold you back from receiving your education, unlike most people in our generations these days because of the debts we are in as a nation and the choices we are forced to make by our government . So that stops most middle class families from furthering their educations, and then it continues as a repeating process. But if we all had the chance to show to the world that we are all actually smart without being certified by a piece of paper(college diploma),then society would hopefully consider giving every one the equal opportunity to achieve any career we choose to. But it just takes time, one extra voice just make our fight against society stronger. (Posting)

Anne Dalke's picture

Boundary Issues?

Given the conversations we had this week (and the papers you are now busily writing!) about "domestic" and "intellectual" spaces @ Bryn Mawr (how separate are they, and should they be?) I was interested in this article, in today's Chronicle of Higher Education, about how students push their facebook use further into course work.

Sarah's picture

What is Posse?

Hi everyone,

I feel like Posse has been brought up a few times and maybe not fully explained.  Here is a blog Jomaira wrote about Posse, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Jomaira or me!

Anne Dalke's picture

Comparing Offices

As inspiration for your postings, this weekend, about space on campus, I thought you might enjoy
(I might invite here) a comparative analysis of my office and Jody's, thinking about....
location (in the center of campus? peripheral?)
public or private (how open? how closed?)
what else???

HSBurke's picture

Rather Dead than Coed

Hey guys! 

I'm assuming (possibly incorrectly) that many of you have seen the recent article written by an ex-BMC student now attending Wesleyan about why she found Bryn Mawr to be a negative experience. She then goes on to extend her view to women's colleges in general. What was most interesting to me about the article, though, were the comments. Many Seven Sister students were immediately up in arms againt what Ms. Chu states in the article. If you had a chance to look at them, what do you think these comments say about the "class" of Bryn Mawr. Do you think this is something that has experienced a shift since BMC's beginnings? 


Also, to play devil's advocate: How does the bashing of Ms. Chu's opinions relate to what we discussed in terms of censoring and holding back opinions in fear of offending someone? Obviously the commenters did not, but is that what they expected from the author? After all, the purpose of an Opinion piece is to express the opinion of the author. What do you think about the fact that the piece is not longer available online? (Or else I would have posted it here..) 

Looking forward to hearing what you guys think!

Anne Dalke's picture

Continuing our dialogue ....

What a great start we had, last week, to our "dia/blog" among Parkway West High School and Bryn Mawr College students. Thanks to all who came, listened, and spoke!

So: let's keep @ it. Feel free to continue sharing any education-related thoughts and questions here.
And/or respond to (and push back on?) this posting from last week, by "Marvin Gaye":

To be able to have some type of success in life you must be certified….
Why must you pay to get a role in Society?

Anne Dalke's picture

"occupy the classroom"...occupy your mind!

couldn't resist posting nicholas kristof's op-ed, "occupy the classroom"....
w/ the notation that one of the most interesting signs, @
occupy philadelphia last week
,  was one reading "occupy your mind."
meditate on that one...

S. Yaeger's picture

Introducing my friend Ms. H.

Hey all.  I know I have spoken at length about my friend who is a teacher in a Philly High School.  I have created this post so that she can comment with a brief introduction and some facts about the school where she is a teacher.  She'll be popping in to share some of her ideas with us!