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Taking dictation in a stuffy classroom isn't
the only way to earn credit at the University
By Mary Chris Jaklevic
"Hi, Dad. It's your kid
calling from school."
"So what's kept you so
busy you haven't called in
Well, I've been leading a discusssion
group on women's issues, and teaching
prisoners in the county jail to write poetry.
I'm also learning how to scuba dive."
"Aren't you taking any classes?"
"Those are my classes."
On Day One of the college experience,
counselors advise incoming freshmen to
"elect" a standard academic load: introductory
composition, a foreign language, a math or
science class and perhaps social science.
From then on, a student's course selections
often follow a departmental flow chart. Some
students overlook unusual or obscure courses
in the rush to complete graduation
requirements. A few may have a fear of
courses that seem "weird," but many just
don't know about the extraordinary options
that are available.
So what can the burned-out student do
when another semester of University
academics looks as appealing as four months
Many students find a break from'the
mundane by taking courses in which reading
text books and attending lectures take a back
seat to other activities.
"Experiential" courses such as Project
Community and Project Outreach offer
students LSA credit for working in a variety
of community institutions. Experiential
learning provides many students with insight
they can't get from a standard teacher-student
For instance, students in the criminal
justice program of Project Community spend
two hours each week visiting inmates at
juvenile and adult corrections facilities. They
tutor prisoners, lead creative writing classes
and exercise sessions, organize cultural
programs for Hispanic inmates, and hold
group discussions with inmates. Some
students help prison psychologists interpret
prisoners' artwork at an "art therapy" program
at the Washtenaw County Jail.
Last winter LSA senior Joe Lieber
participated in weekly group discussions with
prisoners at Camp Waterloo, a minimum
security prison camp. Lieber said his
participation in Project Community
correlates with his interest in things outside
books and classrooms.
"I got pretty bored sometimes in Ann
Arbor doing the same old things. This was a
chance to get to help out some people's lives
and do something different," Lieber said. "It's
not the kind of traditional class. There's a
chance for students to exibit leadership."
Lieber said a big part of his experience was,
getting to know a part of society he had never
"I had never talked to a murderer before I
went there. At first I was nervous, but then
we got to know the men there. We learned
(crime) wasn't just done to be mean. They
had reasons, even if you couldn't agree with
Another experiential project is Women's
Studies 320. Students in the course facilitate
Women's Studies 100, a discussion-based,
non-graded course entitled "Women's Issues."
Women's Studies 320 has no prerequisites,
but facilitators go through a screening process
to assure their discussion and leadership skills,
and their knowledge of women's issues.
The upper-level students are in charge of
making sure their students do assigned
readings and cover relevent topics in
discussion. They even determine whether each
student has met the requirements to receive
credit at the end of the course. But LSA
junior Ruth Gonzer, a coordinator for 320 and
a former facilitator, describes the relationship
of a facilitator to the "Women's Issues"
students as that of "a peer with experience"
rather than a teacher.
Gonzer said that attitude encourages
discussion to be more casual and open, and
ultimately more productive. "I don't think
there's been a group in the history of 320 and
100 that has not grown."
The dynamics of the discussions taught
Gonzer much about group behavior. She was
fascinated by the differences in what the class
expected of the male students, versus
expectations for females.
"In any setting where there are men, men
tend to get more of the attention. People ask
their opinions more, and they are expected to
speak more... I was aware of some of these
320 puts students in
hypothetical buildings makes
Design Studio popular with architecture students.
Continued on Page 9
PAGE 6 WWEEKEND/SEPTEMBER 26,.1986'
WEEKEND/SEPTEMBER 26; 1986