Prof. Duddy ARCH1101.OLC5 | Prof. Rosen ENG1101.LC07

Project #1: Education Narrative

For Project #1, we will have read and thought about José Olivarez’s “Maybe I Could Save Myself By Writing,” Michael Caton’s, “Architecture Needs a Culture Shift,” Ksenya Samarskaya’s interview, “Nontsikelelo Mutiti on Interrogating the Euro-centric Design Canon,” and Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic, Book VII. I invited you to also read part of Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Chapter 2. We could even think about Ellen Lupton’s “Why Collaborate” as having some traits of an education narrative.In these pieces, the writers discuss educational journeys — the way experiences can shape our understanding of the world around us and affect our educational and career choices. The pieces also explore what it means to be “educated” — in fact, Plato likens leaving the cave to the painful experience of true education, while being trapped in the cave and being force-fed the shadows on the wall is something of a false education.

You have read these texts as a reader, to understand them and learn from them, and also as a writer, as Mike Bunn describes in “How to read like a Writer,” looking at not only what they have to say but also how they do so, for what purpose, and for what audience, and in what style or with what tone.

For this project, you will write an education narrative of your own. You will need to choose

  • what the purpose of your narrative is–other than completing Project #1, what else can it do? If you shared your finished narrative with people, what would you want them to take away from reading it?
  • who is your intended audience? Are you writing for people who had similar experiences? People who can’t imagine what your experiences were? Family members who know you but not your specific ideas? Students who are not as far along as you? Classmates with whom you want to connect and collaborate? Potential employers?
  • what style or tone do you want for your essay? This will be connected to its purpose and intended audience. Do you want it to be funny? intense? emotional? controlled?
  • What format do you want it to take? Are you writing it as plain text, or do you want to integrate images or other media? If you do, they should work with your chosen purpose, audience, and style/tone, rather than being unrelated.

As a class, we will brainstorm questions we want to consider to help us each develop our own education narrative. Please reply to this post with questions you think will help everyone start thinking about their own education, and what narrative can emerge. For example:

  • What is a moment, a person, or experience that led you to choose architecture as your major? or that has led you to any other choice you have made regarding your education?
  • Who is a role model for you as an architect? as a writer? as a student? as a person?
  • Describe a transformative experience you had as a learner–either in school or in life.
  • What metaphor could help describe education for you–think about how Freire talks about the banking model, in which teachers deposit information into students, or Plato, who uses light and dark as metaphors for education.
  • What’s something you read so far this semester that connects to your experiences with education? Choose a passage and write about how it represents what you have experienced.
  • How did you know college in general or City Tech specifically was the right choice for you? was it always?
  • How did you develop your aesthetic sensibility, and how does that relate to your architecture goals?
  • What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to learn–again, in formal education or in life?
  • What expertise have you developed, how, and what can that do for you?
  • [I’ll add more from the questions you add in the comments, and some more of my own]

Aim to grow your narrative to 1000 words, without padding or unnecessary repetition, and post it by Monday, 10/5. Give it a title, and choose the category ENG 1101 Project #1 posts. If you’re not comfortable sharing your work publicly, please reach out to me and we can come up with a solution!

We’re working in a Portfolio system this semester, which means that each of you will gather your writing together, reflect on it, and revise it as needed for the end of the semester. For each project, you will bundle your work and reflection in anticipation of the final portfolio and reflection. To submit Project #1 for my review, add a new post on Monday, 10/5, that you make private (see #7 in these instructions to make your post visible only to you and me), that includes:

  • links to each of your earlier drafts
  • any freewriting, brainstorming, sketching, etc, that you want to share. This can include photos of your hand-written or hand-drawn work.
  • what did you learn about yourself as a student? as a learner? as a writer? as a reviser, as a collaborator (eg, peer reviewer, suggesting questions for Project #1, responding to classmates in the discussions)?
  • what do you want to do with your narrative (part or all of it)? (eg, use it on your ePortfolio, as a personal statement for an application, as something you circulate on social media to get attention for issues you raise in your narrative, something you share with your family or community as a way to connect, share history, etc)
  • what do you want help with as you revise it for your final portfolio?
  • what can I do to help you achieve your goals and mine for Project #1?
  • is there anything else I should know about?

Completed project, including reflection and accompanying materials due on Monday, 10/5. Let me know if you need additional time.

You will be graded on:

  • Your ability to develop an overall point/significance for your narrative.
  • Concrete, significant details rather than generalizations
  • Focus on one event or connected, series of events
  • Your construction of narrative that serves a purpose for a particular audience
  • The effectiveness of your organization.
  • Scope: Aim for 1000 words!
  • The finishing touches, in terms of proofreading, formatting, submitting, etc.
  • You will not be penalized for having negative things to say about education, if that’s appropriate for your chosen purpose!

If you have any concerns about this project, its subject, your ability to complete it or to submit it, please communicate with me–we can start with email or scheduling a meeting or planning to meet in office hours.


  1. Johnathon Abrego

    Could u give some examples of what the narrative could be about.

    • Jody R. Rosen

      Sure, we can talk about examples. Some of our readings are examples of education narratives. In these essays, the author describes some aspect of their education experience that shaped them in a significant way. They do this differently, and bring in various aspects of their experiences to tell this story about their education.

      The questions that I provided, and the ones I hope we can generate, will give us a starting point for the education narrative you’ll write Remember, what you write about can have to do with school-based education, but it might be from a different experience where you learned.

      Let’s all think about answering this question. To start, what are the life stories that our authors have written about to say something about their experience in education?

  2. SiniaB

    When will this be due?

    • Jody R. Rosen

      Good question! Project #1, along with a reflection and accompanying materials, will be due on 9/30. I’ve added that important information to the project description. You can find it also in the course schedule.

      • zafar abdukahorov

        where do we hand in the project #1 ?

        • Jody R. Rosen

          Project #1 isn’t due yet. I’m considering a few different options for how to submit the draft and the finished version–either directly on the OpenLab site as a post, or in Google Docs, so classmates and I can comment on it. Does anyone have a preference? Keep in mind that our OpenLab site is public, which has its benefits and drawbacks for sharing work.

  3. zafarjon

    once i finish my draft do i share a google docs with you professor because i am using my personal email to write my essay or would that be a problem ?

    • Jody R. Rosen

      I wrote above that I’m still working out how I will collect the finished drafts of Project #1. Right now, I want everyone to choose a few questions from the list above–I’ve written all of these, though I’ve also requested everyone to add to the list by commenting with a question you’d like to consider–and write a post answering those questions. This is the first part of drafting for this project. You can review the Week 4 agenda as well as the assignment above to review what to work on for this first round of drafting. The Week 5 agenda will have more details to help move us through the drafting process.

      I hope this is clear to everyone, and I’m happy to answer more questions or to have an optional Zoom session to discuss drafting our Project #1.

  4. Kevin Giron

    Questions for narrative thinking:

    1.) Throughout High school, were there any stigmas that you were told that ended up being true false? Explain your experience with those if you have strong opinions about it.

    2.) Apart from architecture, is there another career path, that requires a skill you have learned through your education, that you would like to venture upon?

    3.) Has there been an experience throughout your education that has made you feel super down or put you in a bad mental state? Have you recovered from it, if so how?

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