What They Said - at Sarah Lawrence Last Semester
February 16, 2007 “The Complete and Unexpurgated New Yorker One-Hour Cartoon Course,” inaugural lecture in the Reading the World series
The essence of humor is really play. Sometimes humor is mock aggression, but often it’s nothing more than something bad that’s happening to someone who’s not you. That’s what America’s Funniest Home Videos are. The essence of the New Yorker cartoon is that there is, for the most part, something to get. There’s this transitional moment where you have to think using the medium of humor. The cartooning in the New Yorker is more about thinking than anything else.
Bob Mankoff has been cartoon editor of the New Yorker since 1997 and has written or edited 23 books of or about cartoons.
March 28, 2007 “Cultural Aspects of Learning: Observation, Collaboration, and Multimodal Conversation,” the annual Longfellow Lecture, hosted by the Child Development Institute
For a century now there’s been plenty of evidence that the formal schooling used in assembly line instruction is not a good way for people to learn. It may be an effective bureaucratic tool for handling large numbers of kids, but there are better ways of getting people to learn. One alternative is called intent community participation, a defining facet of which is mentorship. For the learner, the purpose is to observe and contribute to a valued activity. For the more advanced participant—the teacher—the purpose is to accomplish something. This is in contrast with assembly line instruction, where the purpose for the learner is to seek things like gold stars or grades, and the teacher’s purpose is to sort the learners into levels.
Barbara Rogoff is a professor of psychology at the University of California. Her most recent books include Learning Together: Children and Adults in a School Community and The Cultural Nature of Human Development.
April 3, 2007 “Robots in the Classroom: Motivating Students and Machines,” part of the Science Seminar Series
If you told potential students that Intro to Computer Science would have a robot in it, would that be intimidating? Or would it depend on the kind of robot? It would have to be a robot you would want to work with. If it had wires coming out of it and circuits, maybe that would be a little bit intimidating, but if it were small and useful—maybe something that would fit in, say, a lunchbox—maybe that would actually be engaging. So we thought we could take this to the next level and instead of targeting advanced computer science students for robotics, we could use robotics to attract beginners to computer science.
Douglas Blank, an associate professor of computer science at Bryn Mawr College, is developing the Institute for Personal Robots in Education.
May 4, 2007 “An Evening with Rebecca Walker,” sponsored by Common Ground
There was this kind of idealism about my birth. Both of my parents were drawn to Mississippi by the call of Dr. Martin Luther King in the 60’s, and then there was this sense that my biracial body would signify the end of racial segregation and the hope of the future. Unfortunately there weren’t therapists to deal with interracial relationships at that point, and they divorced. Part of my writing is trying to come to terms with that transition from being this idealized body that represented the future, to being kind of a remnant of a more idealistic past.
Rebecca Walker, daughter of Alice Walker ’65, is the best-selling author of Baby Love and Black, White, and Jewish and the founder of the Third Wave Foundation.