Friday, March 06, 2009

My Students are Teh Awesome

I don't often like to write about students here because, well, many of them read my blog and it's not that I'd say bad things, but what I say might get misinterpreted. But I think when I see such good work coming out of them, I feel compelled to say something. We asked our students to comment on our blog about what they've learned in the class so far. We did this verbally in class a few weeks ago and we decided to do it via blog this time. Guinevere's question at the end of here comment really struck me:
I’m still wondering how we take this out of the classroom and into the non-academic arenas. I really appreciated Rebecca’s post suggesting we attempt to balance our discussions of labels between the abstract and the concrete. I think we can definitely work to relate our discussions back to how we go forward in our daily lives. I began the semester contemplating how personal this journey would be for me. The first part of the class certainly was, but I feel now that we’ve moved into a very analytical, attempting-to-be-objective, super-academic approach to our discussions. That isn’t necessarily the worst thing we could be doing, but I’d like to revitalize my own efforts to connect more personally with our discussions, get a little messy and be subjective, and figure out how to relate academia to non-academia. It would be nice in our class discussions, large and small, if we occasionally took a step back and said “OK, what does this mean when we walk out of here at 4 pm?”
I like the push not to compartmentalize what's going on in class, to realize that it can have implications outside of the classroom. But, of course, we haven't discussed how to do that. I wonder, though, if we can think about what we could do. For example, the last collection of panels the students participated in had them presenting on a number of professions, both historical and contemporary, where the gender balance is skewed one way or another. Further, we discovered that pay rates in even the female-dominated professions were lower for women than for men. Can we do something about that? Or on a smaller scale, are there individual choices or actions we could take that would have a collective effect? It seems worth considering taking the class directly into the world in some way. I always assume that students take what they've learned and apply it however they see fit in their lives, but why not apply it sooner?