I had trouble getting through Purdy and Walker’s article—not because I found it difficult, but because I kept stopping to think about my syllabus. Since I want to focus my syllabus on the idea of negotiating identity within a community, I was already thinking of spending time on negotiating academic identity. (I don’t think anyone explained my role at the university as that of a scholar until recently…that perspective would have saved me an identity crisis or two.) This article made me think that’s where my class should start. In particular, I think I should start by stealing the first in-class assignment we did in this class (explaining a time we learned something). It seems really important to present their standing research practices as a legitimate foundation to what I will be asking them to do. By having them think about their own process it may be easier to draw connections to what they will be doing in class. I don’t think it makes any sense to isolate academia from the rest of the world…where it can’t do any good. I want to present research as relevant not only to school but to life.
So that’s going to be the motivation behind my first sequence. I think I’m going to use Calvin and Hobbes’ “Typical Day at School” to open up a discussion on how we see ourselves in the educational system. (Side note: for some reason Calvin is always in the back of my head when I read articles about how to empower students…probably because his creativity was punished at school instead of encouraged.) Right now I am thinking of assigning one of Ken Robinson’s TedTalks—probably the one on how schools kill creativity—as well as the Gee article 130P read. (Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.)
I’ve also been thinking about encouraging them to find outside connections when we do a reading. I’m thinking of assigning something manageable like a single TedTalk and ask them to explore what else is out that speaks to the theme—for example, another TedTalk or a news story or a pop culture reference (which would probably end up being really fun), etc. I’d probably ask them to come to class able to share how the related piece contributes to the conversation. (i.e. does it support it? challenge it? change it? etc.) I’m thinking this might help model the messy reality of research as well as help them make their own context for the concepts we are considering.