Everything got better and better, or, it was I that tried to make it better and better. I started to say my opinions out without worrying about whether they are the right answer for teacher and other students; I check the talking notes two days earlier before the class to ensure I won’t miss anything that needed to prepare for the class; I make appointments in the writing center in order to improve my writing… I began to enjoy the seminar. Though I still can’t talk as fluently as I hope, everyone listened patiently whenever I was talking; though sometimes I still don’t understand the idioms used by my American classmates, I dare to ask questions without feeling bad about myself; though sometimes I still feel pretty struggling about writing a great paper without small grammatical errors, I know I am on the way of being a better writer.What is more important, I began to understand the essence of critical thinking. I found that education, a word that occurs in my life so often, is actually not as familiar to me as I thought. Every time I read a new reading assignment, every time I wrote a new paper, I gained a new perspective about education. I started to look back my life, to examine my choices, my school performance and people around me along my road of my education. By this kind of reflection, I not only learned more about education itself, but also learned more about how to critically consider a social issue.
While I was writing my paper, I reflected on the changes that I've seen in myself and a lot of those changes resulted from many of the topics that we discussed. I didn't think learning about the different types of education that children receive all over the nation would have some sort of affect on me. For example, after writing my paper about access to education, I spent a lot of time outside of class thinking about my thesis. I've never had that type of experience before. After getting a grade on a paper in high school I would just toss it to the side and that would be the last time I thought about my argument. After discovering the huge impact ESL classes had on my learning, I was eager to come home to relearn my native language and interact with my grandparents (who mainly speak Khmer). I wanted to gain back what my childhood education took away from me. I never thought hard ahout how education extends beyond the classroom.
At the halfway point, In Class/OutClassed has helped me challenge the way in which I think about and approach education as an institution and experience. Before, I had figured that educational experiences were shaped by the backgrounds of the students and the characteristics of the class cultures alone; however, as classroom discussions unraveled, I began to scrutinize the educational system's structure and look into contesting the handling of its power. As a class, I have found that the opposing stances that we have held in participating in activities such as our classroom barometer has helped us formulate such ideas, forced us to take responsibility of what we think and test the credibility of the information we come across. Moreover, our discussions with writing partners has helped me recognize the faults in my communication and gradually propelled me to strengthen my voice and stance in my arguments within class. Overall, what we have learned in class so far has pushed me to become a more active participant in my own education and recognize that the quality of the educational process is more important in developing my perspective than the quantified measures such as grades and GPA that were once valued in high school.
To summarize my reflection, our ESEM has taught me a lot about how to mature into a good writer so that I am more confident in my writing and more comfortable in doing so. It also taught me to not only to be actively aware of how education affects people, but the struggles that education currently faces. I feel that my classmates and I both believe this is the main purpose for our ESEM, and that for the most part, the class has been successful in pushing our thoughts and perceptions about education. Moreover, we use the class as a place to test our ideas which we then open for discussion. On the other hand, I also pointed out some things that could be added to the class, such as looking at education from a more global stand point, and trying to make the class more concrete by trying to come up with viable solutions to the problems we have discussed. By doing this I feel like the class would be even richer in content.
This link is just food for thought, but it points out something I think pertains to the article by Edmundson we read earlier in the semester. Justin Fox, a Harvard Business School professor, talks about the value of a college degree and how the supply of college graduates is much greater than the demand, which ultimately allows for a really horrible job market in the United States. He talks about how the cost of a degree is far more expensive than its worth in most cases today, and the possibility that this will create an education bubble that will eventually burst.
I think this can really help explain Edmundson's point about the mentality of college students today who feel tremendous pressure to perform to perfection rather than taking risks.
-"The Education Bubble, Tenure Envy, and Tuition"
Harvard Business Review
My reflection revolved around my ability to "edit" my ideas and rethink many opinions about our educational system that I once firmly believed in. Prior to being in this class, I had a strong belief that every student should go to college and those who didn't were destined to be failures. Even though I saw students who simply weren't raised to beleive college was even a remote possibility, I felt comfortable telling myself that these students simply weren't ambitious or motivated enough to reach college. Essentially, I was blaming these students for something that, in many aspects, was out of their control. Since being in this seminar, my views on the topic have changed tremendously; and I realize the adversity that disadvantaged students have in our educational system that promotes "fairness." My ability to really grapple with issues like these has been the area where I've seen the most growth in myself over the course of this seminar.
For me, the upcoming trip will be a great opportunity to gain new understanding about the topics we covered during the class. What I really want to learn about is the students’ expectations about education. What kind of education do they want to gain? Do they like the way teachers teach? Why do or why don’t? Is “school smart” more valuable or “streetwise”? What their dreams are? Do they believe access to education can lead them to where they want to go? A lot of questions pooped in my head. But I feel quite unsure about how to start the conversation and make it both enjoyable for me and the high school student. I want to talk to them, not just ask questions and make it like an interview between a college student researcher and a high school volunteer. I hope I can find a certain point to begin the conversation. But as an international student, I grew up in a totally different background as they did, which makes it harder to have enough common experiences to develop the sentences. I understand that these differences, on the one hand, may make our conversations more interesting and beneficial for both sides, but on the other hand, I am worried about saying something that offensive or impolite. I don’t know whether I have enough chance to make a deep conversation, but at least I think I will try my best to bring something new to them.
Like many of the people who have previously posted, I'm not sure what to expect. I went a urban/suburban public high school so I'd like to see what it's like for students who go to a special admit public high school. I'd like to know more about how the selection process works. The pictures of the students that were shown during the presentation made them look like a fun bunch! I wonder if I'll be able to relate to them when we compare our high school experiences. I expect that they'll be open to talk about their experiences at their school and their interactions with their teachers and fellow students. I wonder if they'd be able to point out flaws about their school (if there are any) and if they have done anything to address any issues that they see. My high school was nice and all but I had no problems pointing out what could be changed. I also expect them to talk about college plans and possibly ranting about SATs and the Common App (it'll make me cringe) but it'll still be nice to reminisce about such a stressful time and know that I don't have to worry about it anymore...
I thought the slient board was a GREAT discussion tool. It really made me start thinking about the high school. I like to come into a new environment with out expectations except the expectation to learn from it. But when we were writing on the board someone put on the board 'I wonder how it would have been if we had gone to another school without the high school's resources.' I think that would be a very different experience. Even though we're going to a high school in Philadelphia, this specific school requires entrance exams and has a strong partnership with a Liberal Arts College. I wonder if our presence will make more of an impact at the high school or would it have made more of an impact on a more disadvantaged school?
Going to the high school, I want to expand my knowledge about different academic situations and the impact they have on students’ lives. Having gone to the same school for 12 years, I haven’t had much exposure to different academic cultures such as public and urban schools and thus, I am curious about the way the different backgrounds of the students in contrast to those that made up my class will have shaped the students’ expectations for their academic and vocational futures. Since I will be volunteering at the high school in the near future, I would also like to take this as an opportunity to observe the situations that the seniors I will be working with have faced in order to be able to understand them better and become the best help I can be for them. I would like to learn about the overall perspectives of the class, about how they see themselves in relation to their peers, the world around them and the authority figures that shape their lives; however, concurrently, I also expect that my questions won’t be definitively answered as the students may not open up as easily. I can’t just come into the school expecting that they will tell me everything about their lives, especially when I am a stranger asking about their personal academic and home life. I also can’t just make assumptions about aspects of their lives which may not be true. In any case, my main goal is to make a human connection, to have this be a learning experience that will not only benefit me but most importantly, benefit them.