Sphere College Project

A New World of Learning


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This Week’s Class

This week we will hold the third class in our newly structured 10-week session. This session is entitled “The Art of Communication”.

We have been unable to raise sufficient funds to continue classes in the Colonial Theatre for the time being, so we are grateful to Jody Salen of Step by Step Fitness in Phoenixville for donating her space for the continuation of our classes. We are deeply indebted to the Theatre for their generous support for such a long time—one year and four months! We look forward to returning when we reach the point of financial viability. In fact, ultimately we plan to establish mutually beneficial relationships with many local businesses.

The theme of the 10-week session originally began as “The Art of Conversation”, after the essay by Michel de Montaigne, “On The Art of Conversation”. In the first class we worked together to create the syllabus for the session. We wish to provide more balance in the classes, incorporating the arts, sciences and humanities, so in the Steering Committee meeting we expanded the theme to “The Art of Communication” and brainstormed a list of about 14 suggestions for what we might do and brought them to the class. By constructing the syllabus together in class we get practice with our communication skills, and ensure that the students select classes in which they have a vested interest. It also serves as a marker for our current communication abilities. We didn’t complete the syllabus in the first class, and continued it for the first hour of the second class when we arrived at a robust consensus.

In the second hour we began a stimulating discussion of the Montaigne essay. We will continue this discussion in the first hour of class this week, then we will begin discussing a chapter of the book, Theory U by Otto Scharmer, “Conversational Actions”, contributed by one of the students, Wes Frazier. This chapter has already had a profound influence on how I conceive of the field in which conversations take place. We will continue this discussion in the fourth class. I’m very excited to see what effect exploration of this topic will have on the students, both individually and as a class.

In classes 5-7 I will do a three week experiential segment on Computer Communication, describing at a high level what the Internet is, how it came to be, how machines communicate and how we interact with technology. Since time is short I will only be able to whet the appetites of students for more in-depth study, but I imagine it will change the way the students conceive of online interaction.

In classes 8-10 three of the students, Frank, Virginia and Jonathan are constructing an art-based segment connected with the theme of the entire session. It will also strongly tie in the topic of Phase I of the Sphere College Program: “Self and Other”.

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