Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nationality Rooms

I just found out I will be teaching Seminar in Composition in one of the Nationality Rooms at Pitt. The Swedish Room in fact. At least it's on the first floor...

Now, each of these rooms is flipping gorgeous. I learn a lot each time I go in them, they smell nice generally, and they make me proud to be a Pittsburgher. But you can't move the chairs, you can't have liquids or food in the room, there isn't technology like computer screens for the teachers, and the seats are generally rigid wood or stone that gets incredibly uncomfortable. And the worst part? When people take Nationality Room tours, instead of looking through the peep hole to see whether class is in progress, they'll just swing the door open and barge on in. Then they'll look around, stunned, at the class trying to learn (as if we were an apparition zoomed straight from the fjords of Sweden itself) and say, "Sorry! Whoops!"

This will happen again and again, completely interrupting learning. I've taught summer sessions with young writers in these rooms. I think they are a fabulous resource for the school, but really not good learning environments.

My biggest concern is with not putting the chairs in a circle. My whole pedagogy is based around the chairs in circle. Now, they'll be a back and a front, a place to hide and do Sodoku, a way to slouch down and not join the conversation. I'll be forced to stimulate young, tired minds!! Without a circle!

It's almost too much to bear. I'm thinking of pretending to be one of them--sitting among them and waiting and waiting for the "teacher" to show up, finally standing to say, "well, I guess she's not coming. Let's get out of here."

6 comments:

Jane said...

That room looks to me as if it has movable chairs with arm desks attached.

kk said...

I think you sould have pillows and sit on the floor near the fireplace. Can you start a fire in it? That would be great.

Em said...

Could you turn off the twitter popup asking me to log in?

J. James Bono said...

Trust me, there's no slouching in those monsters.

Katy said...

update: i took off the twitter thing, mostly so my students can't google me and learn things i'd rather they not learn. also, i found out that if i move the chairs (or anything at all) in the nationality rooms OR allow food or drink to be consumed in there, i will personally be reprimanded and potentially fined $50. pitt doesn't mess around with the nationality rooms!

freya said...

I've never had any Nationality Room tours come into any of the classrooms I've been in, and I've had plenty of classes in them.
Weird that you've had such an issue with it!