An early post on teaching with Unflattening…
Unflattening in the Classroom: Unflattening has been in use in classrooms for over a year now – ranging from high school courses to PhD seminars, and across fields. Some I know about, I’ve visited a few classrooms, and skyped into several more… The nature of the work makes it difficult to categorize, something I was quite intentional about, and which was wonderful pointed out in this story from French reader Vincent Millou:
- What are the assigned paths that society lays out for us to follow? In addition to schools, where and how does this happen?
- How can we understand the critical work of imagination? How can imagination help transform society?
- Can creativity be learned or is it an innate trait incapable of being gained through education?
- What do comics–and specifically the combination of text and images–allow us to communicate that we couldn’t achieve with text alone?
- What are some of the ways creativity is decreasing in contemporary society? How might we address these issues?
- USC faculty engage in a broad range of public-facing professional practices which are expected and rewarded through promotion and merit raise practices, yet—for the most part—graduate students are trained with a primary focus on producing academic monographs and essays for peer-reviewed journals and without deep focus on this public-facing role.
- The digital era has created a much broader range of opportunities for actively engaging as intellectuals in important political and cultural conversations outside of academia, yet there are still relatively few academics who are participating in these dialogues or reacting to arguments that are shaping other realms of professional activity (policy, law, business, education, etc.)
- There is a growing range of different professions and industries seeking expertise in media and communication at a moment of profound technological and cultural change, yet, for the most part, graduate students are encouraged to think of these other opportunities as afterthoughts as they are being prepared almost entirely for careers as academics.
- a screen-capture filming of one student analyzing her own writing process and her understanding of the role of time in writing
- an actual unflattened sculpture & physical interpretation of Unflattening
I think I can state fairly confidently that the course was a significant focus-shifter for all of my students. The very student who wrote the most convention academic paper said that he keeps Unflattening at his bedside and refers to it now & again just to remind him of a different way of thinking and writing.