Thursday, December 16, 2010
Lab and workshop
My semester-long experiment -- an Honors seminar on handcrafting -- ended today with a celebration. The students knit, crocheted, read, discussed, wrote every day, recorded podcasts, and brainstormed with each other. They participated in two major service learning projects; above are the red scarves they made for the Orphan Foundation of America. Most of all, they thought about their own experiences in relation to the ideas in our texts, and worked hard to express those connections clearly in their writing.
I made some mistakes in the way I set up the course, and in some of the decisions I made executing it. But viewing it as an experiment, I could hardly be happier with the way it went. The students amazed me on a weekly basis with what they gleaned from our readings, the relationships they discovered during discussion, and how deeply they were willing to interrogate their own experiences, assumptions, and emotional responses.
This course taught me about implementing service learning. It taught me about balancing individual and group learning objectives, and giving students a say in crafting objectives and choosing among processes to achieve them. It taught me once again how amazing my students are, and how the insights I think are to be found in our materials are just a drop in the ocean of ideas that the students can synthesize out of what they are given.
What did my students learn? I think they'd say that they learned just how much they're capable of. I think they got a new sense of how they can contribute to their communities. And I think they now see ways of connecting the work of their minds and the work of their hands, to joyful effect.