Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Scribe 4/2

Here’s the summary for what we did today: Monday, April 2nd.
We split into groups of around 3 or 4 people, and signed up for days to lead the class in an “opening activity.” What exactly does this mean? Well, here’s the gist:

While we are reading Brave New World for class, we will be discussing the novel just about every day. But to get us focused and warmed up for discussion, Smith wants to start each class period with an opening activity, led each day by a different group of people. Leading the activity is worth 50 points. Here are the guidelines:
1) The activity should last between 5 and 10 minutes (15 minutes maximum). It should involve the participation of every student.
2) It should tie-in to the chapters being discussed, but also force the class to look at the book from a different and unique perspective.
3) It should be original. Each day’s activity should be fresh, not just a replica of another group’s ideas. It should evoke each student’s own creativity.
4) The group leading the activity is expected to be prepared. This includes meeting with each other to brainstorm and meeting with Smith to verify your plans.
Here is the order that the groups are leading the activities in:

Date of Activity
Group Members

April 4th 1 & 2
Matt, Kurt, Scott

April 6th 3 & 4
Ashley G, Amy B, Katie

April 9th 5 & 6
Jeff, Chris

April 13th 7 & 8
Marie, Alex Ma, Sonny, Andy

April 16th 9 & 10
Haley, Caitlin, Ashley M

April 20th 11 & 12
Melissa, Amy K, Mark, Nate

April 23rd 13 & 14
Taylor, Nick, Stacey, Alex Mu

April 25th 15 & 16
David L, Burger, Levi

April 27th 17 & 18
Zach, Kyle, Leanne, Jess

As an example, Smith led us all in an activity in class. People partnered up and one person in each pair was deemed “the experimenter,” the other “the lab rat.” The experimenters were told to shout the name of their lab rat and bang on a desk 4 times. The lab rats were then made to hop on one foot for 30 seconds in order to get their heart rates up (HR was measured after the hopping). We repeated this “shout ‘n’ jump” procedure a total of 4 times. The fifth time, the experimenters shouted and banged the desk, but the lab rats weren’t made to jump. We then measured the heart rates of the lab rats when just given a stimulus (the shout) versus when they got the stimulus and had to do physical activity (the hopping). The results?—Well, it seems most people didn’t respond to this form of “classical conditioning.” There were a few in the class, however, whose heart rate with only the stimulus was about the same as with the stimulus and the hopping. This means that some individuals learned to associate the experimenter’s shouting with exercise. Therefore, the shout caused the lab rats to prepare for exercise; their heart rates went up in anticipation of the increase in physical activity.

The general point Smith wanted to get across with the activity was how easily people can be controlled, whether at a conscious or subconscious level. In fact, every one of us is conditioned to respond to many stimuli, like end-of-the-period bells, hand signals (the finger-over-the-mouth sign for quiet, or “shhh!”), color patterns (red = stop, green = go), etc. Just like the individuals in BNW, we are programmed with certain ideas in order to allow society to run more smoothly.

Okay, those were today’s main points. Homework: Join up with an activity leading group if you were not in class today. Read chapters 1 & 2 in BNW for Wednesday.


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