Senior Seminar for the Education Minor visits And the Winner Is…

And the Winner Is… catalyzed rich participant structures for people to play, learn, and explore within.  It took up deep questions about belonging, hierarchy, and access—deep questions of education.  —Alice Lesnick

Our group (Sarah Brown, Kat Wyly, Allison Letts, and Ivana Evans) used the exhibition And the Winner Is… to prompt a discussion in our Senior Seminar for the Education minor about competition and community in academic settings.  The seminar of 20 students, plus Instructor Alice Lesnick, gathered in the gallery on the evening of Monday, April 9th.  First, we put the entire seminar through a mini skee-ball tournament: everyone competed.  After five quick rounds of single-elimination play, we awarded the winner a prize.  Then students discussed the types of competition they see at their placements and shared their insights into the role of competition in education. Students also tried to define “healthy competition” and concluded that healthy competition in classrooms should promote hard work but not cause the “losers” to feel discouraged.

Since our group took the class on this trip to the world outside our classroom, we also used the opportunity to think about the value of field trips and to reflect both on what makes a field trip successful and what challenges these trips may present for educators and students. We reflected on our past experiences with field trips as students and as Education minors helping teachers lead them.  This conversation led to a greater understanding of the ways in which field trips can benefit students. Students also discussed the fate of field trips in this era of intense focus on high-stakes testing and increasingly limited funding and decided that despite the challenges associated with creating and enacting a successful field trip, that these trips are essential to students’ education and should not be sacrificed.

—Sarah Brown ’12