Perhaps the most consistent theme throughout our version of English 382 (I say “version” since it now appears that each subsequent class will have their own unique experience with the class, which is exciting!) has been the idea of the social construct. From the first week in which we discussed the Matrix, through my group’s week as lecturers and graders dealing with the way society arbitrarily creates race, up until this final conference, where each of us will be discussing various aspects of gender as a social construction, I have found myself challenging several social constructs I once took for granted as reflections of reality, as well as refining my views on other that I had already begun to challenge, such as race. The ability to think critically about the ways in which societal structures that are not necessarily “natural” are created and maintained is one of the most important things I will take away from this class.
Apart from this important academic knowledge, I have also learned much more practical lessons about how to work with people. Coming into the class, I was a bit worried by the idea that the lesson plan for my “week” would be a group project, and much more so by the prospect of the midterm and the final exam being collective endeavors with almost the entire class. I have always disliked group projects, preferring to do my own work so that I could be assured that I could get the grade I wanted without having to carry the load for other people who might not care as much. This class has instilled faith in me that group projects with intelligent, motivated individuals can actually work efficiently and can seem a lot less like work in the process. I also realize now that this was great preparation for the “real world” (you know, ‘cause school isn’t real life). In most work environments, things are accomplished through a team effort, and I guess there’s really no reason why school should be any different. I feel like the skills I’ve learned negotiating with and working alongside my colleagues will, in a lot of ways, go much farther than abstract concepts I’ve learned through books and lectures, since when real life happens I’ll be mostly working with teams to accomplish tasks rather than working independently. The renewed faith that groups of people can actually accomplish great things (I’m so proud of the conference!!!!) and the way I’ve learned to work within groups are two of the most important lessons I will carry with me as I continue my life beyond this class.