Reading Response Week 8

Now that spring break has passed the final days of school feel like they are rapidly approaching. I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I have spent four years cultivating and building various communities here. Each one, while they haven’t been perfect, has taught me so much and I am quickly realizing all that I am grateful for. So as much as I am excited to make the transition, I have also begun to nervously anticipate the change.

I wrote pieces of advices for myself based off of the poem Patti Digh created for her commencement speech. The advice is only for myself, based off of what I have learned throughout my time at Guilford and also what I hope to be able to bring with me into whatever work I do next.

I tried to incorporate wording from Unpacking the Knapsack, Rev Barber’s commencement speech at Guilford and pieces from Patti’s blog that stuck out to me.

Instead of knowing, I hope you will question.
Instead of accumulating, I hope you will give.
Instead of playing to win, I hope you will play to learn.
Instead of competing, I hope you will collaborate.
Instead of hating, I hope you will love.
Instead of remaining silent about inequities, I hope you will speak up.
Instead of despairing, I hope you will be happy in advance.
Instead of fleeing, I hope you will walk straight into all the days of your lives.
Instead of avoiding, I hope you will sit next to someone arm to arm.
Instead of diminishing, I hope you will know, deeply, that every human being you meet is as fully human as you are.
Instead of asking, ‘what will I get from this’, ask ‘what am I bringing to this’?

In addition to working, play.
In addition to protecting, open.
In addition to saving, give.
In addition to dreaming, do.
In addition to doing, dream.

Instead of saying failure, say “learning moment.”

Instead of apologizing, explain your feelings.

Instead of getting angry, have compassion.

Instead of saying “you’re wrong” articulate your reasoning.

Instead of being passive to injustice, create a moral revolution of values.

Instead of thinking about what’s next, appreciate the moment you are in.

Instead of wanting to do everything, dedicate yourself to doing one thing well.

Instead of giving into the darkness of injustice, follow the path of the light.

Instead of making a 5 year plan, let your vocation reveal itself organically.

Instead of striving for perfection, be grateful with what you have.

Instead of mourning a loss, be thankful for transformative relationships.

Instead of looking for recognition, make selfless sacrifices for the betterment of the community.

Instead of throwing the rock, look over the edge.

Instead of criticizing difference, recognize complementary skills.

Instead of only working on myself, support others path for improvement.

Instead of alienating those who don’t agree with you, teach them something.

 

In addition to calling or racism in small acts, also call out the system.

In addition to prioritizing yourself, also prioritize the community.

In addition to caring for others, care for yourself.

In addition to doing something because you have to, do it because you want to.

In addition to thinking critically, remember solidarity is a verb.

In addition to being nostalgic for old communities, build new ones.

 

Class and Reading Response Week 6

Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory is crucial to understanding how to do any type of group collaboration. Gardner says that “as human beings, we all have a repertoire of skills for solving different kinds of problems…it is of the upmost importance that we recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligences and all of the combinations of intelligences” (“In a Nutshell,” p. 21+ 24). Essentially, this means being able to recognize your personal strengths and weaknesses, and well as the strengths and weaknesses of others.

I was thinking about class last week while reading the words of Gardener. In order to plan for a backpacking trip like we are, there needs to be extensive planning and work throughout, but for very different aspects of the trip. I realized that without knowing it, by forming committees we were dividing up people to do work for the trip with their select skills, or intelligences. For example “spatial problem solving is required for navigation and for the use of notational system of maps” so someone with spatial intelligence during the hikes is going be really great at figuring out which ways to turn, how to get to our campsite, etc. Someone with “interpersonal intelligence builds on a core capacity to notice distinctions among others—in particular, contrasts in their moods, temperaments, motivations, and intentions,” might perhaps be someone on the “needs” committee, who is going to intuitively be able to know when to bring positive energy up or know when someone wants to be left alone. It is important to recognize on a trip like this that we have different, but complimentary skills. Everyone is bringing something different to the table and ultimately they are all equally important. For example, I may be fantastic at planning and gathering all the necessary gear, but I might be terrible at knowing when we need to slow down/speed up our pace. JK Rowling said in her commencement speech that a “knack for passing tests just because you are good in college doesn’t mean you are successful in ‘life’.” We (as a class community, but also as a society) have to get better about recognizing non-traditional skills and intelligences.

As Gardner says “it is a pluralistic view of mind, recognizing many different and discrete facts of cognition, acknowledging that people have different cognitive strengths and contrasting styles” (“In a Nutshell”). It took me a long time to have the “complimentary skills” mindset, to be able to understand that no form of intelligences, or skill-sets are better or worse than others. I interned summer 2015 with the Cape Fear River Watch in Wilmington, NC, where one of my main projects was helping, along with Guilford Students of color, to re-write the summer camp curriculum for 3rd and 4th graders. Drawing on the historical work of The Waterman’s Song by David Cecelski, we redesigned the curriculum to include the rich and complex history of local African American waterman slaves, and the repercussions of slavery and racism in the environmental field today. We aimed to intertwine this important history with the ecological curriculum base of the camp. I had a background in planning events like the camp, been a summer camp counselor in past summers, as well as just being a person who thrives off of planning, making lists and being prepared. I found myself taking on the unofficial role of planner, making the schedules and sending it out to all the interns, and being the point person to create meetings and working around everyone’s schedules. I know that my comfort zone was in the planning stages, while some of the other interns weren’t. For example, Jeremiah Long, another intern from Guilford, possesses the ability to live in the moment, be spontaneous and genuinely appreciate where he is. From my perspective, this is something that makes me anxious, but this skill that had great value during summer camp (also elsewhere) when schedules needed to be changed last minute. I learned so much from working with him, from feeling comfortable altering the schedule if the campers are having a great time collecting shells on the beach, to how to find gratitude in even the smallest moments.

I would also add on to Gardner that even there are intelligences you may not be born with, they can still be learned. For example, in a society and educational system that values Logical-Mathematical and Linguistic intelligences quite highly, I have flexed my disciplinary muscles for so long in those intelligences that I am better than where I started from. And I think the same is with any of the intelligences: diligence, motivation, and determination help you get better at any of them. Gardner does says in “Five Minds” that “indeed, any practice will build up disciplinary muscle… I make a sharp distinction between discipline a) powerful but typically non-intuitive way of thinking) and subject matter (facts, information)” (“Five Minds,” p. 5) and this I agree with this.

I also agree that just because you may be naturally included towards one intelligence, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t focus on learning the others. Just like how Gardner critiques the idea that focusing on one discipline is not the way you should view the world, I would say that is the same for intelligences. Life is inherently interdisciplinary, and therefore multi-intelligences filled too. JK Rowling said “personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisitions or achievements. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two.” Gardner ends with “think in the long run what kinds of humans beings we want to be and what kind of world we want to live in” (“Five Minds,” p. 17). In my opinion, I want to appreciate intelligences that are different than mine, understand the world through an interdisciplinary lenses, as well as build up my own personal skills in different in intelligences.