NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED345270
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Pages: 14
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
A Community of Strangers.
Harris, Joseph
Intellectuals lament the disappearance of community, a nostalgia for the small town that has supposedly given way to the anonymous crowds of the city. Likewise, scholars have talked about "discourse communities" in romantic terms, referring to a place where all share the same values. However, a more urban view of social life, in which participants differ widely on values, might help teachers to rethink the work that goes on in the classroom. The term "community" has a positive opposing term: "public," a term which refers to a space, or point of contact. For the author Richard Sennett, a public space is one where strangers meet and talk, a site of difference and not consensus. The classroom should become such a public space, a zone of contact between competing views. In a class at the University of Pittsburgh, "Writing About Film," students were asked to write about any scene or image in the movie, "Do The Right Thing," that was difficult to interpret. Three selected responses indicated the range of opinions, and through discussion, support for each reading was presented. The goal was not to move closer to some ideal understanding of the film, but to determine why students chose to "read" it as they did. After rewriting the papers, the ways in which the class discussions had shaped the revised responses became clear. Students define their own voices partly through the public discourse of the classroom, demonstrating the value of the wrangle as opposed to the value of any push for consensus. (Fifteen references are attached.) (HB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A