Assessment and Writing

Friday, April 21st, 2006

I performed a seacrh for the word assessment on this weblog and found posts that tracked a few elements I’ve been thinking about. This post grabbed my attention, this paragraph in particular

I would generalize that if most people heard that life existed on Jupiter, they wouldn’t think much of it, unless thy also heard that that life had crowded onto ships and was on its way to enslave planet Earth. This is why science fiction writers make aliens nasty rather than innocuous. It keeps us interested. Do you buy this?

I’d rewrite the last few sentences this way

This is one reason why science fiction writers make aliens nasty rather than innocuous. It keeps us interested. Do you buy this?

Yes, I still buy it. But how do I now draw it into a different context. In my writing course over the summer, I’m preparing individual and team-driven projects that focus on Hartford. The theme of the course will be: how do we get college graduates to move to and live in Hartford. The core here is a fundamental argument. One of the first issues we’ll tackle is the nature of place as seen from the point of view of the people in the class. From this initial work, we’ll extrapolate to establish what makes a place exciting, interesting, and or unlikable. What do others think, also? I’m wondering if I can use some of the material that Carol and Sally have used on their work on the “city” in their courses in this project? The next issue may be: how does Hartford compare to other cities relative to positives and negatives? The course would end with arguments about how Hartford does indeed offer a good deal of positive place or how it doesn’t? Would Hartford as Place appeal to people looking to move there? If not, why not? If yes, why? What is required of good places? What thinking is required to generate ideas about this given such a complex city? Is metaphor required? Comparison?

This is one approach. Another approach could examine the “place” as it exists for the people who live there now and how it works and doesn’t based on readings dealing with different approaches to urban living and developments in Hartford, a subject which has generated an enormous amount of literature, perfect for purposive and analystical reading. There’s lots of exciting thinking going on about this and my own wanderings in the city (which is more familiar to me than the suburbs–like but unlike El Paso, Texas) has provided anchor for this approach in a writing course. I’m currently thinking about trimming down the scope, but keeping to the focus, and am considering individual work that grows out of team discussion about the things that make places interesting to think about: the flow of travel, architecture, geography, environment, economy, thought space, unity, safety, work, and technology.

Abilities-based will be continued with on writing as a primary means of conveying description, making connections, evaluation, and an appropriate amount of research given a student’s particular angle on the final argument based, perhaps, on the input of their group.

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