Monday, December 2, 2013

Freedom to truly think

To be honest, Dr. A's syllabus scared me a little at the beginning of the semester. Broad guidelines for the papers, open topic blog posts, and a group presentation with the only guidance being "Consumption of Colombian telenovelas". You mean, I had the freedom to write about anything? Wait, Dr. A you mean you don't have a rubric on how we are going to be graded? In theory having the freedom to write about anything sounds great, but it honestly gave me anxiety.

All throughout high school and college, I was used to writing papers and doing projects by following specific guidelines. I knew that if I included everything I was supposed to and followed all the rules there would be no reason the get a bad grade. So I have to admit, the freedom Dr. A gave us in all of our assignments truly worried me at first. I remember writing my first blog post and think "what on earth should I write about? How long should it be? Does this sound too informal?" (This was about the same though process for the first paper and the consumption project).

Now, as we are nearing the end of the semester, I realize that this class challenged me to think in ways I never had before. Instead of following specific instructions from a syllabus, this class made me reflect on what I truly wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. And you know what? Figuring out what it is you want to say and not letting grades get in the way is hard. In a world where we have mostly been taught to follow so many guidelines, we almost start acting like robots. I am not trying to generalize by any means, I am simply talking from personal experience. As hard as this freedom was for me at first, I am so glad Dr. A gave us this opportunity. Yes, I have learned all kinds of things about telenovelas in this class but the most important lesson I gained was to actually think about my personal opinions. This class taught me that it is okay to express myself and I am really appreciative of that.


  1. I am so glad you brought this up because it is so true, and I could not agree more that this is one of the most valuable lessons I am taking away from this class. I have always been one of those students obsessed with the grade and believing that, that was the most important thing. As a perfectionist, I like to be told exactly what is expected so I can accomplish it. But like you said, that leaves little room for creative expression, and assignments are meant to be so much more than just a checklist. I truly believe the lack of boundaries and guidelines were a catalyst in helping me learn more in this class than I have in many of my others, and when it came to writing papers and blogposts, the amount of freedom of expression challenged me to really think and put time into writing what I really wanted to say and what I wanted people to hear.

  2. It was hard for me to get used to this class format as well. As an English and Public Relations major, I am constantly being told how to write. What sentence structure to use or not to use, to make my essays personal or impersonal, to use AP style or MLA, etc. etc. It was scary at first to not have these guidelines as "safety nets" for the first paper and presentation. That is what they truly are, though. These rules make us feel safe, like we are doing what we are supposed to do. What I realized throughout this semester, however, is that without these, while we may feel a little uncomfortable at first, we have more freedom. The boundaries and formalities serve a purpose, but without them we are free to explore and develop our own learning process in whichever direction we choose.

    It was so interesting to see the many paths each of our minds decided to take throughout this semester. Some people chose to study the tumultuous past of Colombia and one of its most infamous drug lords while others embarked on a journey to discover the rich history of telenovelas rosas and their modern day counterparts. Each person found what was interesting to them, and together we discovered a different culture and tradition.

  3. I could not agree with you more. Although I am not a huge stickler for constraints, the freedom of this class was very, very much appreciated. Not only just the freedom of the format of our papers, projects etc. but I learned so much more than the name of this class portrays. I can say personally, I learned alot about the history of different south american countries. And, this knowledge wasn't even obtained from the telenovela that I watched. But, learning about different historical telenovelas such as Pablo Escobar, or Cosita Rica really broadened my knowledge of historical events in these countries. We also cannot forget how much we learned about Venezuela, not only from Dr. A but from the guest interviews that we had. The freedom is present in so many places throughout this class. But for me, I had the most freedom in the content and knowledge that I took away from the class. I could have easily just sat there and learned the basics of telenovelas, but I honestly formed a huge interest in how governments of some of these struggling countries affects their citizens.

  4. Great post! I was thinking the other day while writing the paper that it would be great if we knew exactly what we needed to write and what Dr. A wanted (you know, bullet points!) but then I just kept writing and writing not needing to be in a box of a rubric.
    And Hannah I really like what you said too about this class being bigger than freedom with writing but rather the freedom of nations like Venezuela. Talking to El Chascas who kept referring to things you can't talk about in each country's production of novela's was fascinating to me. In Venezuela telenovelas are caged in, in Mexico they must be beautiful and universal. This class taught me that freedom is a beautiful thing (that unfortunately can sometimes be perceived as dangerous).