A Call For Change

I found Sousanis’ Unflattening to address many topics such as creativity, standardization, and imagination. It was quite interesting to read the excerpt. The sequence of drawings showed us how we are sent to follow instructions and put on a certain path since the day we start walking.  I found the pages 9-15 to be significant because it gives us a visualization of how we are sent to school to learn and how everything is limited. The typical teaching/learning setting is in a classroom where all the students are sitting looking up at the teacher and listening to her. But should we only believe what comes out of the teacher’s mouth and that that is what’s supposed to be memorized and noted detail by detail? Is that how it should really work?

Correspondingly that type of setting puts us in a limited space as well because we are learning everyday. Molly Worthen still believes in a typical classroom setting. She strongly believes that students should be lectured. She states her point in her article, ??????? ??. ??????.” Worthen is pro lecture. She is all about giving lectures to students. She believes that the teaching students the old fashioned way will only help them to learn more efficiently. “…lecture courses as an exercise in mindfulness and attention building, a mental workout that counteracts the junk food of nonstop social media.” Do you agree with her statement? I completely disagree with that because honestly speaking looking at the drawings from Sousanis’ Unflattening I can see myself in a flat environment.

Likewise in a few pages of the excerpt there are drawings showing how students are “molded” and go through “every procedure is designed to ensure that proper results are achieved.” This means that students go through the learning process and are taught to excel in that repeatedly. They are taught to reach the goal of the class, which is to have the students learn everything taught in a a period of time. Because of that goal students are sitting in a boring environment and they have no creative vision of their own. They are in a flat environment. A change in teaching environment is to be called for. Students “all are subjected to periodic examinations.” They are tested on what we are taught in order to determine where they stand. They are tested to see if we are standardized. Meaning that students need to reach the standard for the curriculum.  They are confined into a small learning space and taught in the same way everyday in order to be tested. But we definitely need to bring change.

However the first changes to be brought are in teachers. They need to have a new perspective in how to teach students because the old method is not working anymore. Molly Worthen also had the old attitude of having a lectern instead of computer gadgets. “The piece of technology that I really needed is centuries old: a simple wooden lectern.” Professor Savonick uses active learning. I am always engaged in class. I am always attentively listening to her and to others in class because she has a different way of teaching. Her classes are different from my other classes(in a good way). Majority of my classes are lectures, and half the time I’m convincing myself to pay attention, listen, and to focus. Although I’m not saying that lectures should be completely thrown out of the curriculum but there should be some new ideas brought in.

Overall limiting a student’s knowledge in a small classroom may be harmful. Students visions are being narrowed. They’re not as creative as they were. In an article called the ” The Creativity Crisis” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered that since the 1990s creativity scores have been decreasing significantly. They are left in “flatness”. We should let students explore some way on their own on how they want to learn. We should ask them what’s a helpful way to them for learning. Teachers should also use their methods but they should adjust their teaching methods accordingly for the students. After all they’re the ones being taught.

Finally Nick Sousanis re frames some topics we have been discussing in class. He shows visuals of students being sent on a specific path since they start taking their first steps. They are sent to school to learn specific things in a typical classroom. The students in the comic excerpt look so uninterested which shows that their should be change in the teaching methods. As a student I can say that this comic has shown a lot through drawings. It has shown exactly how students feel and what they go through. I hope that this can help people better understand to bring a change in teaching methods.


What does the word “flatness” mean to you in context of the Sousanis’ 1st chapter of Unflattening?

What relation can you make in between the visuals and students today?


12 thoughts on “A Call For Change”

  1. Sumedha, I really liked your blog. I completely agreed with everything you said, especially with what you said about Sousanis’ “Unflattening”. It was clear that it was focusing on how society molds us into what they want, since the day we are born, “For it starts early. Nearly as soon as they can make tricks of their own,”. Once our gender is discovered in the womb people stereotype you and put you in a box. You’re a boy so you’ll wear blue, like sports, be a pig, and follow the trends. You’re a girl so you’ll wear pink, like princesses, be conservative, and follow the trends. We are put in a box when that’s not where people belong. I know plenty of guys who prefer video games over sports, are not pig (they’re very respectful and caring), and don’t like what is popular because it just doesn’t click with them. I also know plenty of girls who like sports, are not conservative (they have been with multiple people), and do not like what is popular because they find it stupid. People should be free to be themselves. To me, flatness means a lack of individuality. If everyone is the same, then no one is unique, and why would everyone want to be just like everyone else? Today I had someone walk up to me after my math class and start a conversation with me. They told me I was the only person who stood out in the class, because I have multicolored hair and a bright colored, nerdy book bag. That made me happy. This person found me interesting because I was just being myself, wearing what makes me happy. People need to stop caring about what others think and be themselves.

  2. I definitely agree with your blog. Education needs to change. Since I can remember, many students, I can say more than a 90% goes to school because it is an obligation. I have to say that I was part of that 90%. And that happened because school left to the side one of its main objectives: objectivity and transformation of the student. Education is not made to discipline students or to produce knowledge. School should be a place to interact, to develop our brains, to give us the tools to succeed in life using our strengths and to help us to gain confidence in ourselves as a valuable asset for our society. We are programmed to learn everything that professors teach us, but most of the time we are not informed about the use of the knowledge that we are gaining, because everything is theory, not practice.
    In that way, the visuals reminded me that education is so patterned and unattractive to students that most teachers forgot about the creativity and diversity that it involves.

  3. I thought the comic was an excellent portrayal of a topic that concerns nearly every young person going through the ranks of education. Standardization and categorization of student performance on a one dimensional scale causes a great deal of anxiety and grief among so many of us who feel that our entire lives are viewed and judged simply through the format of performance on tests which don’t necessarily measure our true mental capacity accurately. I found pages 9 and 10 to be most significant because it really hammers in the idea of education as an industrialized system, instantly stripping the individual of creative potential and giving one a dull purpose and forced focus of study. “Nearly as soon as they can make tracks of their own, they are sorted out and put on tracks, assigned paths, and sent forth to receive instruction.” This statement is a powerful one which shows a very real problem, an example being that a phenomenal artist with great potential in the field of arts feels like a failure or falls into a depressive state of ambiguity following the system which the state orders they follow in order to achieve proper “success” in the world. I still feel though that some standard of education must be met in all individuals, such as basic problem solving skills in arithmetic and english in order to ensure that individuals can all coexist in a state which has a higher quotient of intelligence. It is true that a more intelligent society is a more efficient one. Also, and very unfortunately, many times fields such as the arts and fine arts are not very plentiful in jobs and therefore students must be able to transfer into a field which still entertains them or embodies aspects of a field such as the arts, yet requires certain knowledge such as mathematics or problem solving skills or even analytical skills which can be learned in an english class. Standardization is something that should be lessened, but at the end of the day education reform must still retain some standard upon which all students can be ranked to ensure that there is a level of competence in logical skills so that every student gets improvement in thinking and reasoning.

  4. Good job on the blog! I also believe that there needs to be a change in the way students are taught. Instead of teachers cramming students with information that they comprehend somewhat, teachers should create diverse methods of teaching. This way the student can actually attain knowledge instead of trying to just memorize for a test. A students creative and thought processing brain is being used to just “memorize”. This causes creativity to suffer. This is the reason students tend to underperform. Students become discouraged and bored, so they stop asking curious questions.

  5. Hi Sumedha I really enjoyed reading your blog. What I found interesting in” The Creativity Crisis” was how professor E. Paul Torrance the psychologist designed the series of creativity task . He along with other neuroscientist came up with very important observations . They found that the U.S. creativity scores were declining because so many kids were spending more time watching T.V. and playing video games rather than engaging in creative activities. It made me think of the debate we had in class on tuesday about specialized testing and how some people are for it and some are against it. But after reading this article I kind of understood the reason for these specialized testing it’s a way for the state to calculate what the student is lacking. The same way 58years ago Professor Torrance was trying to figure out who had an “unusual visual perspective”and “an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful product it was a production of something original and useful .Maybe listening to a lecture isn’t for everyone or taking exams isn’t for everyone but one thing the schools should do is give free classes to prepare the kids for the standardized exams so if you missed something repetition is the key. When we learn something it should be in our minds for ever not just for a week until the exams.

  6. Hello Sumedha:) It’s true that creativity is facing challenge because “scores have consistently inched downward since 1990″, in the article Sousani wrote. One reason is kids pay more time on watching TV and playing video games. Another one is they didn’t learn much about creativity in their schools. Although some school are good,or trying to make students learn creativity, many other schools still use traditional ways to teach children;so these children are bored and lost their interesting in studying,exploring,or creating.To children and adults,divergent and convergent thinking are both important.

    Moreover , Sousani indicated that“ ‘Creativity can be taught,’says James C. Kaufman, professor at California State University, San Bernardino.’ ” Not only those who have talent in creativity have chances to be improved, but also those who are taught with creativity can.;the article showed this possibility.

    l think “flatness” in context of the Sousanis’ 1st chapter means normal, nothing special.People were put into a model machine when they were born, and then distributed to selected paths. At the same time, l think the visuals did reflect most of students’ current situation. Most of them just keep studying like robots;it’s what we don’t want to see nowadays.

  7. Hey Sumedha! a part of your response that particularly stood out to me was when you introduced the other side of your argument. Mentioning Molly Worthen definitely emphasized the counterargument, but you then proceeded to provide reader’s with evidence to back you up. As far as your point of view, I definitely agree with you on your perspective concerning Sousanis’ “Unflattening:”. “I found the pages 9-15 to be significant because it gives us a visualization of how we are sent to school to learn and how everything is limited. The typical teaching/learning setting is in a classroom where all the students are sitting looking up at the teacher and listening to her.” This specific part connected to discussions we’ve previously had in class related to active learning. Although creativity and active learning can fall into two different categories depending on subject, active learning ultimately finds a new way to teach students. This is creatively finding new techniques in order to fit the learning styles of different students. Both active learning and creativity breakaway from traditional learning standards that had developed throughout the years within the education system.

  8. Thank you for your blog, Sumedha. I think that you are correct in your assessment of Nick Sousanis’ work “Flatness” in that individuals of a society should be able to think freely on their own and not be spoon-fed information to memorize and store. Sousanis is indeed promoting creativity and individualism as opposed to a system on which everyone becomes the same model of a person as their neighbor.
    On the other hand, althoug Molly Worthen advocates the method of lecturing, she does not mean that the ideal education is that of memorization alone. Worthen mentions in her article that a well given and we’ll received lecture will lead to the students cultivating their own ideas as they absorb the information. She describes that a lecture can in fact promote free thinking if delivered properly.
    When Rebecca Schuman disagreed with Worthen, it wasn’t an argument over the actual efficacy of a lecture, rather that the vast majority of the student body is not prepared or suited for a lecture-typt education.
    Everyone agrees that creativity and individualism is necessary, the only question is how to educate so that we can promote those factors.

  9. Your blog really describes everything that I saw when reading Unflattened. The way you described the connection between ordered structure showed in Unflattened and the current school system was dead on perfect. I personally have felt that I was just standing in line with my classmates while a teacher taught a monetized curriculum and I felt that it was great to see that others felt the same way.

  10. I completely agree with your entire blog. I especially agree when you stated that students are achieving the class goals not their own goals. They are not given that opportunity to do it their own way. People should use their own creativity and knowledge to know what they are capable of. Always going by what the teacher or professor says turns people into followers, not leaders. People become incapable of doing things their own way. They will always depend on some one to tell them the “right way” of doings things. Promoting creativity and uniqueness should be included into lecturing and active learning.

  11. Sumedha, really great blog post and I agree and can identify with a lot of what you wrote about. The one thing I would like to address is when you were talking about Lecture Me. Really. By Molly Worthen, you wrote that her argument is in essence null and void because of what the readings said. And I agree to an extent in terms of the lecture, but Worthen’s article, as she stated over and over, is speaking in regards to the humanities. She was not speaking about math or science or the different ways to improve a toy fire truck, she was writing about subjects like history. You can’t give creative choices on when the War of 1812 began, it began in 1812. All she was saying is that for these subjects, the lecture is the best way to do it. Maybe there are better ways to teach the humanities but these subjects are important, even if they feel standardized. In fact they are meant to be standardized. The education system feels there is a necessity to know certain things about our history for example. And maybe in order to teach and grade these rigid, standardized facts, one of the most effective ways is standardization. What Worthen was arguing is that it is in fact the best way.

  12. It’s true that we are having some “models” to test students, to see if they are standardized. Students are taught in the same way everyday in class and be tested after a few days just to ensure if they were absorb the all knowledge. But it is going to be terrible if all students think about things in exactly same ways, just like In an article called the ” The Creativity Crisis” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, Kyung Hee Kim, students lost their creativity and their grades were went down finally. Creative is very important, students should be encourage learn in multiple ways.

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