Sunday, October 2, 2011

Unity Experience Class Visits Unity House

In mid-September, we had a visit from Assistant Professor Beth Arnold's Unity Experience class.  This class is part of the Core Curriculum, and it is designed to orient incoming students to campus and community resources, and to build collaborative and critical thinking skills.

Beth first asked her students to snoop around Unity House, looking for elements of sustainability design and technology that might differ from a traditional home.  They spotted many such elements, like the hinged wall separating the living space from the guest room, which allows the two spaces to be merged to meet the needs of large groups.  Sustainability, in this case, means flexibility. 

Then we went outdoors for a little play time, and the first game was literally about orientation.  First, we all formed a square
around Beth; then we had to reorient ourselves in the same pattern when Beth scooted over to another location.  Soon we were all laughing as we chased Beth around the front yard.  Her instructions were clear, but her movements were unpredictable!
Beth's next exercise asked students to pair up and take turns being the camera and the photographer.  The person playing photographer walked the person playing camera around, looking first for an image of how the photographer felt about him or herself at that moment, and second for an image reflecting the photographer's connection to nature.

I didn't have a partner, so I just observed and took pictures (with an acutal camera).  The people playing the camera were supposed to keep their eyes shut as the photographers guided them to the images.  This involved a certain amount of trust on the part of the people in the camera role. of course, once the cameras opened their eyes, they would be looking at the world from the photographers' perspectives.

After this outing at Unity House, students would be writing up a reflection about their experiences today. I had a short writing exercise in mind for them, too -- a brief description or definition of sustainability in human relationships. Here are some of the responses:

"Sustainability in human relationships has to be done with hope and trust in complete strangers. You must have hope in the things you do not understand."

"People in relationships should work together and communicate often to have a successful, sustainable relationship."

"Being able to change and adapt as people and relationships change."

"People moving past differences to accomplish things."

"We're all sharing, whether we like it or not."

Cookies? Why not.  And why not take a turn seeing the world from someone else's perspective? IMHO, that's the most important skill to practice to advance our critical thinking abilities.

No comments:

Post a Comment