March 23rd, 2013


University exercise succeeds, and therefore removed from curriculum

Now, there's a fair amount of he said/she said here, so keep that in mind.

But in a class on Intercultural Communications at Florida Atlantic University, the professor made use of an exercise in the textbook, presumably to demonstrate cultural sensitivities:
“This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings. Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”

What happened next is a bit unclear. A student alleges that he refused to stomp on Jesus, and was suspended. The University's final story is that "no students were forced to take part in the exercise ... [and] no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University ... [but] This exercise will not be used again."

At any rate, it's clear the exercise did indeed uncover the strength of certain cultural sensitivities, even to an irrational extent (I mean, it's not Jesus, it's a piece of paper with "Jesus"). With luck, it would help students feel the strength of their own reaction (or observe it in others in the class), and be able to better empathize with others with different cultures and their sensitivities about their own ridiculous frog-faced idols. [Obviously, as a one size fits all exercise, using Jesus isn't perfect in our multicultural society, but picking the dominant religion is playing the odds.]

Or maybe it was just a silly exercise from a second tier school. You make the call.

Walkin' in Phillay

I took a roundabout way to Philly. It was annoying, but it saved the company a couple hundred dollars, and I got some United miles. The bossfella was not impressed by my economy; he thought I was nuts.

Late Saturday night, I flew up to San Francisco arriving a bit after midnight. And then the comedy of horror began. It was horrorful enough that my connecting flight to Philly wasn't 'til 6 in the morning. What I shoulda done is stay where I was in Terminal 3 until the morning. But I attempted to get to Terminal 1. First check, the little monorail thingy was only running one direction, and it was the one that took me on a long loop out past the post office, the rental car thing, and back into the airport and finally to Terminal 1. Then Terminal 1 was was shut down for the night. No one at the airline desks. No one manning security. I guess I hadn't considered that the TSA ever takes a break from probing citizens. So I, and a cohort of fellow sufferers were trapped on the outside of Gate-land. A strange little world of airport after midnight was then opened up to me. I found myself on the floor, with my head under a bench to shade my eyes from the blinding overhead lighting, while Zamboni-esque carpet cleaners roared back and forth down the aisles, conscientiously avoiding running over any of my fellow sufferers (so far as I know).
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