Monday, June 24, 2013

Class Is In Session

The moment I have been preparing for the past six months has finally begun. It was now time to begin the Freedom and Justice course. Jenna and I went to RPCC to enjoy a satisfying breakfast before heading off to McGraw Hall, where the class will be held. Fortunately, we saw Tamilyn with her floormates Tess and Monica and decided to all walk together.  After about a ten minute walk, we reached the building, found the lecture hall, and took our seats on the left hand side of the room.
Professor Kramnick speaking to some students before class
A view of the black board which will display outlines of each lecture per day
Unlike a high school classroom, where between thirty to forty desks were set up in the middle of the room with a whiteboard up front, this area had rows of seats, which had collapsible, small desks for us to set our notebooks and writing materials. By 9 AM, Professor Kramnick took off his watch, informing us that this how we know class has started.

Since it was the first day, Professor Kramnick gave a general overview of how the class will be organized for the next three weeks. As he was explaining the three components of the course (lectures, discussion groups, and writing workshops), I began to feel some relief from the worries I had the night before. At 10:45 AM, the students were split into groups of twenty two and met in separate discussion rooms with their assigned teacher assistants, or T.A. Tamilyn and I were assigned the same T.A. : Nolan, a PhD candidate from Oakland, California studying in the Department of Government. After everyone introduced themselves, we began to have a preliminary discussion about our thoughts on political theory. The well thought out questions and opinions presented by the other students amazed and slightly intimidated me; this showed me that they were truly invested in the course and all had intelligent things to say.We then had a hour lunch break. 

Professor Kramnick scheduled for myself and five other students-in alphabetical order-to have lunch with him at Kennedy Hall.
Myself, Professor Kramnick, and five of my classmates having lunch
We all went around the table and briefly talked about the one thing we knew best: ourselves. Interestingly, all six of us wanted to become lawyers, a commonality that I did not think we would all share. It made me wonder how many other aspiring lawyers were sitting among me. Finally, Kramnick summarized his early life growing up on a domestic farm and his 44 year long teaching career at Cornell. I was very happy to be given the opportunity to get to know a little about my professor so early on in the course; I hope that I establish an even better relationship with him during the next three weeks. 

We reconvened to our discussion room for our first writing workshop. The essay prompt was: What does freedom mean to you? While the question appeared simple, it was actually very broad and I found myself thinking of the many different physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of freedom. Once we finished writing our drafts, Nolan initiated a discussion about the idea of freedom. Arms immediately rose into the air. From autonomy to the right of choice, so many interpretations were shared by the other students that I realized how narrow-minded my thinking of the topic was. 

In just one day of class, my capacity to learn and accept varying perspectives has widely expanded. I simply cannot wait to delve more into the course tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment