Okay, so first of all, I just spent a good ten minutes on thesaurus.reference.com
and finally decided to use the word woe. I started with qualm, investigated
perturbation and scruple, explored ennui and lugubriosity, and decided on woe.
And it's still not really what I mean. What I mean is closer to anxiety, but not
the kind that includes physiological arousal. Maybe despair would be better.
As I sat in front of a blank word document, trying to begin outlining my senior
reflective essay, I felt conflicted about a variety of issues - primarily two - and
decided that I would rant a bit via my blog so that my reflective essay did not
turn into a critical commentary on the nature of PDP.
So I'm going to try and get those thoughts out first, here, so that my reflections
about the effectiveness of PDP do not interfere with my reflections about MY
personal college experiences.
First and foremost, I simply do not know what to write about. It's not that I lack
material from which to draw, but it's that I am undecided about what I want to talk
about. I don't know how much information I want to dispel. I don't know just how
personal I want to get. I don't know how honest I am comfortable with being. The
solution that I settled upon in regards to this is that I will pick a few topics
for each section of my outline and simply write. Whatever happens, happens. In
short, I figure that if I write about it, I'm comfortable enough with it. And if I
don't? Then I'm not. But even so, I know that I probably won't be entirely comfortable
while I am writing it. And maybe I'll write about that.
Secondly, the four pillars of PDP are horrendous things. HORRENDOUS. HORRID. They are:
Intellectual Growth and Discovery
Citizenship and Community Responsibility
Ethical and Spiritual Growth
Emotional Maturation and Physical Health
Aside from the fact that the fourth pillar is clearly two very different categories
that are disguised as one, the pillars simply aren't helpful. To my understanding,
the whole point of PDP is to encourage people to become more reflective throughout
their day-to-day experiences and over the course of their lifetime. Okay, that's
fine, I totally agree with that. Clearly, I love being reflective (and reflexive*,
for my Sociologist friends!). But the pillars aren't helpful. For a lot of reasons.
The pillars are too restrictive. There are a lot of deeply influential experiences
that I have had that don't quite fit into one of these specific pillars.
And this is more than a simple issue of having four categories that are mutually
exclusive but are not exhaustive (hello, more Sociology terms!).
SIDE NOTE: Oh my goodness something crazy just happened that I have to talk about
it now, in real time as I'm writing because it's crazy! So I requested a new laptop
charger cord because my cord is becoming frayed and doesn't always make a connection.
I'm currently at work at the library and I guess there was static buildup in the
carpet or something because I heard a sound like a crinkly plastic after-dinner
mint wrapper and looked down to realize that the somewhat frayed section had minor
sparks! SPARKS, YOU GUYS. So, my laptop is now unplugged and I will definitely be
keeping it asleep and unplugged overnight and while it is unattended, so as not to
start any fires. Goodness! ANYWAY.
It doesn't just bother me that these four categories are not exhaustive. It primarily
bothers me that I feel tied down to these pillars. Okay, so PDP is supposed to help
us be reflective. Awesome. The problem is that, even if someone is usually reflective
throughout his or her day, those reflections are not going to be couched in terms
of these four pillars. Instead, such ongoing and spontaneous (reflexive*, perhaps?)
reflections are going to be couched in terms that are broader so that these new
lessons can be broadly applied to life in general.
I would argue that people are naturally reflective beings. Placing them into boxes,
pigeon-holes, and tracks or tying them to pillars goes against this natural flow.
P. George would probably agree with me. He's talked about increasing freedoms because
he believes that truer learning is possible in an environment that has greater freedom.
PDP will probably mostly die in the next year or two, but I wish it wouldn't. It
needs restructured, which has happened poorly in the past two years. PDP simply
needs more freedom. As P. George admitted, many students will absolutely squander
this freedom. But what about the ones who won't?
What about the ones who won't?
Also, I think it would be REALLY most effective if students had to write a reflective
essay at the end of each semester. That way, they could reflect about each course
instead of having to choose at the end of their four years. It would also be a better
way to see semester-to-semester shifts and changes and to make connections across
semesters. Nobody's going to go for that idea, though.
*Reflexive doesn't mean what it sounds like it means. It has nothing to do with
reflexes. Well, largely. Reflexivity is a term within qualitative research that means
that a qualitative research must continuously be reflective in order to be aware of
how his or her personal perspective and worldview (shaped by personal experiences)
influence his or her perception of whatever is being qualitatively researched. I
suppose this can incorporate reflexes to the extent that reflexivity should become
as natural as a reflex. But it does not mean reflexes to the extent that reflexivity
is a thoughtless, knee-jerk reaction.
Also, how in the world is "won't" the contraction for "will not"?
And, I know that punctuation comes before quotation. If you want me to explain why
I broke this rule, I can. But not right now. It's time to carve my elephant.