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On Being Kind As We Name, Reflect, Act on Problems in the World

October 21, 2015

In chapter two of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire proposes teachers bring “problem posing” into the classroom. Freire argues that students have real questions for which they want answers, real problems they want to solve, real ideas they want to explore about their world. He encourages teachers to move from a transmission style of teaching to a transformative one, one that provides students with opportunities to transform their world. To do so, he suggests a process of naming, reflecting, and acting on the real world problems we face today. In Stop Stealing Dreams, Seth Godin also encourages students to get out and work on real world problems.

This semester, my students will write a 8-10 page research paper detailing how they worked to solve a problem they saw in the world using skills they have or want to learn. In this problem/solution essay, they will name a problem and do research into it to describe it, through research find and reflect on solutions. They will then take action, and, in their paper, evaluate their action. Their papers will include both primary and secondary research, first hand experiences as well as library research using the Ventura College databases.

The first step is to develop and draft a research proposal which is due next Wednesday and which I will approve. In the proposal, they will name the problem, propose possible solution/s and discuss actions they can or could take based on what they know so far.

1) Brainstorm
possible problems to solve. Do some research into possibilities.

2) Develop a research question for your proposal.
To prepare, consider the following:
What do you propose to research? Why does this topic interest you?
What is a problem you want to learn more about?
What do you think you want to do about this problem?
What is your research question? What is your working thesis?

            Write a proposal in a typed 1-2 page paper of 3 or more paragraphs using single or double space:
–name, describe, outline the problem to show why it is a problem (not just a topic); be sure your problem is narrow enough for the scope of the paper and has a specific issue you will be addressing; include your research question and hyposthesis
–discuss why the problem is of interest including relevant personal experiences
–discuss possible solutions, possible actions
–discuss possible primary sources
–discuss key secondary sources

Next students will begin research in earnest. During this phase, they will produce an annotated works consulted or annotated bibliography using the VC databases and librarians and including interview subjects and at least one local organization/advocacy group working on this.

Read more about this research paper process on Whisper Down The Write Alley.

Artwork above by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo who is trained in the rare Buddhist art of silk applique thangkas. His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave his blessings to Leslie’s work and encouraged her to make images that speak to the spiritual aspirations of people across religions and cultures. Read Leslie’s blog here and learn more about her work.


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