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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Samuel's Reflection

1. What worked? What would you celebrate?

The thought partners communicated effectively enough to develop a general framework for the learning experience. It may not be the case that we developed what was desired or intended, but it worked well for what was achieved.
The exchanges were civil, polite, and productive. Each member seemed genuinely receptive to other member's ideas and concerns, fairly considered differing perspectives, and allowed for different ideas to influence the resulting general structure.

I celebrate the general structure which as realized, that which did not exist many months ago. This framework should be useful to address larger, general organizational concerns and questions in the near future. For thought groups that follow, there is a structure in place to consider. It allows future thought partners to evaluate a previous experience as a point of origin. Hopefully, it will be adapted as needed. I do not suggest this to be condescending, only to reflect that progress and change should follow the our work. I find it hard to believe we realized an optimal and/or complete configuration.

2. What is missing or yet to be done in order for the 100-student freshman initiative to be successful?

The group developed a general framework whereby providing answers to general questions, by way of and possibly answering specific question for specific group members. However, the general framework has not been beneficial in our current correspondence with the statistics department. They are not interested in the general scheme, rather the statistics specific details. For example, how are WTU's determined and how will individual faculty combine several discipline specifics courses into a single course? Most importantly, there was no discussion about how (say) statistics, economics, and physics courses would play and interact with one another. I am very eager to have such discussions and develop genuine cross disciplinary pedagogy. Since the collaborative partners who will be actually involved in the experience where not entirely at the meetings, it may not have been possible to consider these important details in a productive capacity.

The projects are a critical, foundational component of the experience. The projects need to be cultivated and organized by the faculty collaborators.

3. What are your reflections on our last day's conversation?

Each member was gracious and selfless, revealing aspects of their own thought process that influenced our conversations even at a subconscious level. It does not appear this openness was genuinely present at the beginning of the term. The conversation seemed almost apologetic, providing some form of closure to the members. Right then, why closer? It may be closed for some, but for others the journey is only beginning. As opposed to closure, I would have preferred a serious and focused discussion about how the group (in part) should optimally proceed.

4. What did you learn? Was there anything valuable?

The process of change is slow and difficult. It is even likely painful for some. My experience last term reinforced how difficult genuine change is for some individuals. Perhaps frustrating at times, it allowed me to develop an appreciation for a reluctance to faithfully accept rapid change. Not everybody embraces change as much as I do. This is perfectly fine and a good thing. I hope that I have learned to be more patient with individuals who are not as cavalier about change.

Cal Poly is the polytechnic flagship of the entire CSU system. It is made perfectly clear we are not an R1 school, and we are a teaching university. I must ask, why are we so far behind other CSU's in alternative modes of instruction? I am well aware of the programs/individuals which make up the banner we trot around. I have learned there is little to no genuine culture of change at Cal Poly, and most of the faculty are perfectly happy using pedagogy from the twentieth century.

Cal Poly should be leading the CSU, state, and nation in teaching education research. Brave souls (ie Linda and Liz) should not have to spend countless hours obtaining external funding and convincing colleagues to seriously experiment with teaching methods. They should not have to defend themselves, and they should be respected. Experimentation and education research should genuinely be encouraged, supported, and valued. It should be what we do - always and continuously.


  1. Your final paragraph here is so well said, Samuel. I agree wholeheartedly.

  2. You have commented several times over the quarter on your observations about the difficulty of change. This has caused me to think quite a lot about change and not change. I just tried to change a very difficult personal pattern in my own life, It required a level of interruption that I wasn't sure I could pull off. I did it anyway, and the insights were invaluable. I sometimes challenge my students to sit in different seats in the classroom and notice the heightened level of sensitivity and awareness that comes with even that simple interruption of a pattern.

  3. I'm really looking forward to diving in to the creative process with you. I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and eagerness! (It must be the youth element! ) I think your second to last paragraph says it all. Let's be the change we wish to see...