Saturday, March 30, 2013

Unplugged Assignment

Sometime during the next few weeks, my First Year Writing students will have to complete what might be the most difficult (and maybe even unpleasant) assignment of the year: a 24-hour unplug and response paper about it. From the assignment guidelines:
For 24 hours, you must completely unplug from technology: no cell phones, no internet, no computer use of any kind, no TV, no iPads, no iPods, and no radios. You may use electricity for other things and you may drive, though I’d rather you not listen to music in the car. (Spending a little time with your own brain will not kill you, I promise.)  For safety’s sake, please be smart about this – keep your cell on you in case of an emergency (but turn it off). Tell your family/friends you’re unplugging. Re-discover the world. Take a walk. Read a (paper) book. Talk to people without distraction.
When I announce this assignment on the first day of class, some students react, but most see that the response paper isn't due for a few months and forget about it.

When I remind them two weeks out that their unplugged paper is due, they panic. "What if I have homework?" They ask, frantic eyes pleading. "What if I have a project or a paper to do? I need the computer!"

Just as many teachers and professors have done before me, I remind them that they'd had the guidelines and due date since day one. They should have planned. Just as many students before them, they complain and groan. I ignore it.

This semester, facing a particularly un-motivated bunch of mostly art students, I promised I'd do it too, sometime in the next two weeks. I don't particularly feel like wasting class time presenting my own response paper, so I'll post it here instead. My projected "unplugged" day will be next Saturday, April 6, from midnight to midnight. During this time, I have a drawing event and a birthday party to attend, both which should be excellent opportunities to ignore my electronics and socialize.

I encourage my students to embrace the radio static enjoy it, and some do. Some continue to complain on the page. I hope all of them learn something. I'll (anonymously) share any particularly interesting responses here as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment