Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cambridge Life #7 Cambridge Life #7

For one day last Saturday, three Cambridge, NY locations, a Main Street home, the former Bean Heads Coffee House and the General Films Incubator at Varak Industrial Park, were transformed into an improvised college campus. Seventeen educators from around the tri-state area (New York, Vermont and Massachusetts) converged in here in town to present their Master’s thesis projects to their thesis professor, Dana Rapp, of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA).

Students presenting work at General Films Incubator at Varak Industrial Park, Cambridge NY (Photo: John Carlson)

These presentations were the result of a cutting-edge Master’s in Education program being developed at MCLA that compels candidates to THINK outside the limitations of the traditional research paper-based thesis to challenge them to new realms of creative expression. In addition to the requisite reading and writing, students were encouraged to “take risks” in exploring inventive ways to communicate the information they gleaned from their research.

Projects included: a 7 minute commercial about teen-aged girl body image awareness and how advertising affected this test groups sense of themselves, an autobiography by a student who has had a life long struggle with being bi-polar, a four-sided pyramid sculpture depicting the connection between poverty and education, a documentary film made by a high school coach delving into the link between academics and athletics and how to motivate athletes to become better students, a multi-media performance consisting of video, spoken word and dance, using the mathematical concepts of complexity and chaos theories to help understand grieving and the formation of social organizations, a cookbook for high school students giving them new ways to look at the food they eat and how to prepare wholesome and good tasting meals, to name a few.

All these students took on projects that challenged not only their intellectual facilities, but opened them up to new and exciting ways of looking at themselves and their creative capacities which they can now add to their educational repertoires to enliven and inspire the students they teach.

As an observer of this amazing and transformative day, I was left with a huge dose of hope that these teachers will go on to foster THINKING and solid tools for creative problem solving in their students- and hope for the future of our country.

Life in Cambridge never ceases to amaze me… how such a small town can attract such a multitude of interesting happenings!


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