Saturday, May 14, 2016

Processing the semester

The semester, and the academic year, are over! Last bits of work are straggling in, but my classes have met for the last time - "Performing the Problem of Suffering" on Wednesday, "Exploring Religious Ethics" and "Lived Religion in New York" on Thursday. All three ended with final reflections, an ungraded synthesis which I encourage students to do in any genre which matters to them, so I'm awash with reports and visualizations of learning and arrival. These range from the slightly ridiculous - like the hand-drawn booklet from which the image above hails - to the sublime, like this Rothkoish muslin for the ethics class.
The student first dyed the whole thing yellow, then the lower portion purple (twice), to represent the struggle of ethical awareness and action - the yellow is saintly, the purple (my camera didn't capture the depth of it) human weakness and evil. It was part of the plan that eye level should be grey. Serendipitous was that the limit of the purple took on the shape of misty mountains - there's even a haze of green. Profound was the way it represented both the difficulty of ethics (it appears mostly purple, the yellow unattainable) and the underlying goodness of human nature (it's all yellow)... To know that you need to know how it was made. That's fitting, too, for process-intentional seminar pedagogy. 

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