Ok, since we’re already in the home stretch a bit, I do want to push you to write a bit about the writing you do here itself. I’ve tried to talk out loud for you about the theory behind what we’re trying to do here, and probably with mixed success. As we’ve discussed, its a very different game from sitting in a room where someone has all the answers and hides them behind their back… and eventually sends you off to guess what they’ve been keeping from you. And then you take a test…
The invitation here has been to exploration and expression: No one has been told all semester that they were wrong about the beauty or lack thereof of a particular art piece or performance. . . No one has been told that smart people like classical music, or that the most successful folks understand modernist painting. I’ve encouraged you to play a hunch that I have: engaging the arts on your own terms can produce a surprising number of . . . moments of insight, peak experiences, good laughs, and “useful” doses of anger, joy, disappointment, and happiness.
Part of this exploration has been participatory — go and do. Part of this exploration has been “try to write down reflections on arts events and issues surrounding arts events.” A final part of this exploration has been “try to respond in a meaningful way to what others have to say about arts events and issues surrounding arts events.”
So two opportunities for big reflection here:
(a) A goodly number of you will find yourselves working more and more in digital environments where one of the key struggles will be to manage a version of your self that exists online. You need to sort out how to be forceful, interesting, ethical, and true to the self that exists in the real world.
How are we doing with this? Why is it hard? How could we make it easier? better?
Here’s one reflection on the value of this kind of online exchange: Teaching Virtual Teamwork
(b) There are lots of different ways to conceptualize the value of a higher education. . . to understand the quality of investment you are making at this life moment in terms of time, money, opportunity. Alas, I think fewer and fewer folks will tell you but a key part of this moment is and remains self-knowledge. We know from the current economy what can be taken away from us. We need to remember what can’t. . . I think what the arts (and reading and writing) provide is the great privilege — and privilege that 99% of the world will never experience — to engage the meaningful task of answering the question “who am I and what do I believe?”
Here’s a challenging reflection on this dynamic:
Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?
How can we better shape the writing we do in this class to more urgently get you to the task of of simply preparing you for the life ahead?