Week 2, Day 7
Day 7 was hard. My lesson plan fell apart somewhat. One group of students was gone in the first half of the morning to do an interview, another asked to leave for the second-half of the morning to do an interview. Since we were only meeting for 3 hours in the morning, this was actually very disruptive and it felt like no one in class was able to stay focused, especially myself. Still, there was some good content – here is how it went:
Again we began our day with progress reports. Each group had lots to say, even if it was bad news about pursuing many contacts and not getting through to any of them (LGBT group), or getting such varied information that the topic felt less clear (Cauvery River group). We also spent a little bit of time talking about the deadline. The school was shifting dates around, not communicating clearly, making us confused about exactly how much time we had (one thing we knew for sure, we were going to have a few days less than we had all originally thought). This was stressful for students and for myself as well. Deadline stress was a major presence in our class from this point forward, so it was really important to talk about it all together, as soon as it came up.
When talking about cliches, I added the cute little anecdote that cliche is actually a technical term from the days of letterpress printing – it was a pre-assembled word or phrase, made for convenience because that word or phrase was used very frequently. “Stereotype” means the same thing.
When talking about myths, one of the first definitions was “Something which may not be true,” to which I responded “Oh really? Well, I think myths are always true,” which kicked off an important and interesting conversation. We remembered truth & meaning spectrogram, then another student re-defined myth as “Something which helps us understand the world,” and I said we might even call it “Something that makes the world” (we had already talked about this concept briefly with concepts of Freire – “the word is the world”). This was too esoteric for some students, but a couple of them got really intrigued by this conversation, especially when I was trying to provoke them by saying things like “Western Science is a myth,” etc. I only wish that all students had been present and engaged for this, unfortunately it was mostly just a talk between me and 2-3 others.
We also did one more mind-mapping activity, but students were not enjoying it, not very engaged, basically it just flopped.
Which was too bad, because I had hoped to lead this into another activity where we make symbols on the mind-map, then break up into small groups, each group has 20 minutes to make lots of simple, iconic colored-paper cut-outs of those symbols, and then the full group all together tries to compose everything in one big “Silhouette Story-telling.” I have done this activity many times for single-session collaborative graphics workshops, it is a perfect way to get a group all the way to a semi-finished product in just under 4 hours. But even here it would have been a great opportunity to assess different approaches to symbol-making, the effectiveness of cliches, and techniques for sequencing and creating relationships between unrelated elements. Oh well, maybe next time…
So the class kind of just petered out and did not amount to much. Fortunately I did not let it bother me, just learned that it is important to insist that class time is sacred, and got ready for the next day.