Professors Davidson and Gates began our first week of our class, “Mediating Race,” with a Think Pair Share question: “Write down one thing that you’re an expert in and one thing that you’re hoping to learn from this class.”
After students wrote down their answers and discussed them in pairs, we convened as a class to share with everyone. Most students said they weren’t experts in anything, that they didn’t really *get* pop culture or social media, etc. … but as they started talking, they realized that they were, in fact, experts in many things related to the class topic. I, for one, realized that I’m quickly becoming an expert in Star Trek, especially Deep Space 9, and that I really want to learn more about how race is mediated in that series (and in the Star Trek universe/industry more generally).
Professor Gates pointed out that even making the choice not to watch something or not to participate in a particular form of social media–for any reason–is to critically engage that forum, to have an opinion about it, to think about how people (and, I would add, their data) are filtered through that platform. Professor Davidson pointed out that interactive activities like Think Pair Share reveal the expertise in the room. Rather than defer to the authority of a single person–a professor–it’s more beneficial to everyone to collect and survey a range of standpoints and areas of expertise to contribute to and complement a class discussion and/or lecture.
Over the course of the conversation, and because of the unique references each member of our class brought to the table, we started adding more resources, links, and readings to our syllabus and formed a supplemental bibliography for further reading, listening, and viewing. You can access our working bibliography (and follow along as it grows throughout the semester) here.
For our next class meeting, we’re reading Professor Gates’ Introduction to Double Negative, Kristen Warner’s “In the Time of Plastic Representation,” and more. In class, Professors Davidson and Gates, and myself, as the Assistant Instructor and FI fellow, will leave the room to give students the opportunity to choose dates for their presentations and to brainstorm future readings for the syllabus based on their own interests, learning goals, and expertise. You can follow along to see how our syllabus evolves here.