Street Smart Chicago

A Hopeful Inquiry: Teaching Sophocles in the Community College

Education/Training, Essays & Commentary No Comments »

By Alli Carlisle

I laughed out loud when I walked into my first college classroom as a teacher. I couldn’t process the disjuncture—three months earlier, I’d been sitting in the back of the room, terrified of public speaking, and now I was at the front. And not only that, but these people expected me to have something worth saying, worth being paid to say (well, worth barely being paid to say).

So when I walked into the classroom that first day, everything—the doubt, the insecurity, the idea that I was supposed to talk to thirty people at a time—rushed up like pressurized lava out of a subterranean vein, and bubbled into the air in the form of giggles. Yeah, I was pretty sure they were going to respect me.

That first day, I passed out little pieces of paper printed with excerpts from the radical Brazilian education theorist Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”:

…in the last analysis, it is men themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system… Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry men pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. Read the rest of this entry »

Untangling the Web: Learning to Speak Geek

Education/Training No Comments »

By David Wicik

As a millennial and the holder of an upper-five-figure student-loan debt, unemployment is no casual matter.  Coming out of school during what has widely been touted as the worst economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression, competition for the kind of career-track positions that the college-grad has been taught to expect is fierce.

So what is a young, would-be urban professional to do if they ever want to move out of their parent’s house?  As a man once said, if you can’t beat them, join them; and right now, they are all online. Web design and web development are not just the growth areas of the last decade, but also major growth areas for the foreseeable future.

Opportunities abound for the technologically literate as mobile computing and social media continue to integrate into the everyday experience of the American consumer. Whether it’s a tech startup, or a local business looking to foster a relationship with its market, a capability to work with the programming languages that underwrite online interchanges makes an individual more attractive to a broad array of potential employers.

I contacted Abby Hunt, head of public relations at GrubHub to get some more information about how a novice could best go about acquiring these skills and what specific areas of expertise the tech sector is seeking. Read the rest of this entry »

An Infection with Art: Reflecting on the German Way

Education/Training No Comments »

Beate Geissler is a German-born artist and educator. She joined the faculty of UIC’s School of Art and Design in 2008, and is currently assistant professor of photography. In Karlsruhe, Germany, she taught at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, a school founded in 1989 on the premise of integrating the Bauhaus method with emerging technologies of computer and network industries. Geissler has taught studio art practices at the graduate level in both her native Germany and in the U.S. Below are excerpts from an email interview in which she reflects on the difference between art education in the U.S. and in Germany. Both countries have notably complex traditions of art education and dynamic contemporary art markets. (Jason Foumberg)

Higher education in Germany, besides a rather small tuition fee, is basically free, and most of the universities are public institutions supported by the government. There are only a few private institutions. This theoretically supports the idea of an equal education standard and quality level across universities and academies. But with an increasing demand for global education standards this system becomes more and more difficult to maintain and finance. I think it is possible to say that German students take a lower risk, which creates less pressure, and American students take a higher risk. The stakes are in general higher here, which in turn creates a lot of pressure on the part of the students and on the part of the privately funded institution. The reputation of an American university can provide an easy start on the job marketplace in the US, but the education itself appears to be more geared toward formulaic content, which in the arts can be counterproductive. On a master level, American universities seem to provide very good research environments because of their proximity to the industry, but this also dominates research goals, which seem to be more detached from their industrial applicability in Europe and therefore provide greater freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

A Ball of Baby Snakes: A Victorian Love Story

Education/Training, Essays & Commentary No Comments »
The coiling byzantine “arc” of my collegiate career is often thought of, by me, as something not unlike a ball of writhing baby snakes slowly finding their way out of the heat and discomfort of the nest and into the space of the open world. It began when false promises of an athletic variety delivered me to a tiny, haunted Catholic campus on Philadelphia’s Main Line, an alien amongst astronauts (the school ran thick with admittedly gorgeous girls who, when freed from the monotony of their fantasy-fueling Catholic school-girl uniforms, would overcorrect and swaddle themselves in sweatpants, thighs once exposed between pleated skirts and bobby socks now covered by comfortable heather gray and emblazoned vertical brands demarcating where they came from, Prendie, Ursuline, Sacred Heart, that they would tuck in to any manner of expensive Ugg boots—that is the astronaut part—which were adored above near all other possessions for their ability to provide individual statement to the aforementioned uniforms; (North Face fleece tops, hair wraps, designer sunglasses and Burberry scarves often completed the uniform) and buried in the demands of an exercise science degree, most notably the dreaded A&P, which required that one not only learn both anatomy and physiology and participate in a lab, but was a two-semester course so that, upon completing one half of it, one went home for the holidays with the chilling notion that, stacked like textbooks in black garbage bags, preserved cats, chest cavities gaping like pink, fleshy clutches, awaited you. Read the rest of this entry »

Walking the Atomic Dog: Realizing the Power of Youth Work

Education/Training No Comments »

beacons first muralA few years ago I needed a job but was sick of waitressing. An acquaintance, Hayley, suggested I work for her at her afterschool program, Beacons. We were sitting in the back patio of a bar where our friends DJed, drinking beers. Though I repeatedly vocalized my self-doubt about being responsible for an entire herd of children, she insisted I’d be fine.

It wasn’t until my interview that I began to think maybe I’d actually make a decent youth worker. Hayley and I discussed how we’d both gone to afterschool programs growing up. All at once, visions of past counselors resurfaced with sweet memory.

There was Steve, the lanky long-haired goofball, who talked like Scooby-Doo whenever he saw tears. He and another counselor, Paul, were in a funk band called Elmer Funk. Read the rest of this entry »

Toward a More Stable Life? Learning Some Horse Sense

Education/Training No Comments »

horseIn the words of a t-shirt I once owned, “Life without horses? I don’t think so.” For a few girls I know, horseback riding is an urban luxury. With all the unbelievably cultured classes and workshops Chicago has to offer, sometimes the one that takes your interest most is slightly out of reach. Luckily, the suburban stables are just a short Metra ride away.

Local writer Robyn Pennacchia and friend Melissa Fisher are frequent riders who commute the brief distance from the city to the country in search of satisfying their itch. After going to Memory Lane in Willow Springs for the first time this year, both enthusiasts agree it’s one of the best stables the suburbs have to offer. Read the rest of this entry »

Stranger Than Fiction: What’s Going on at Columbia College?

Education/Training, South Loop 1 Comment »

Photo: Marla Seidell

By Marla Seidell

Friday afternoon, I arrive at a Columbia College Chicago building on South Michigan Avenue to talk with Fiction Writing Department Chair Dr. Randall Albers. Dressed elegantly in jeans and a French blue shirt with black stripes covered with a brown corduroy blazer, Albers’ height and distinguished presence make him slightly intimidating. Yet he smiles and greets me warmly, ushering me into his spacious office with a killer twelfth-floor view of the lake, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Read the rest of this entry »

Experienced Learning: Overcoming the Obstacles to a Midlife Career Change

Education/Training No Comments »

"The Schoolmaster," Adriaen van Ostade

By Jack Helbig

Everyone agrees that teachers are central to the learning experience. And everyone—teachers, administrators, union officials, school-board members and state legislators—will agree that we should have the best teachers available for our children. But the reality is that the system currently in place to prepare, and more importantly, to credential teachers is gamed against older students.

If you are a returning student, someone with some knowledge and experience in the world—experience that might be important in the classroom—there are institutional roadblocks in place that make it almost impossible to get a teaching certificate.

Ten years ago, I returned to school at forty-three years old to become a teacher. I succeeded, and have been teaching since the fall of 2005. I am not writing this to settle scores, or to whine, “They didn’t let me in.” They did let me in. And I love teaching. Read the rest of this entry »

Life 101: The Education Issue

Education/Training No Comments »

Illustration by Jeremy Sorese

Another year older? Check. Another year wiser? Hmmm.

We’re the last to say it’s a simple thing, navigating this precious cargo we call ourselves. But we do know that one of the best investments you’ll ever make—of money, of time—is in your own human capital. It’s not easy to chart a course, especially after a long run through college of courses basically charted for you. But we believe exploration is the essence of life, and we found stories for this issue to aid you in that process. We’re not going to tell you what to do or where to go—there are plenty of fine sources for that. But by sharing a few personal stories, by pointing out a few lesser-known opportunities we hope to help you find your way, whether straight and narrow or off the beaten path.

Let us know where you end up. Read the rest of this entry »

Out of Iowa: A Life of Lessons Learned and Lost at Workshop

Education/Training No Comments »

The author as a young poet in Iowa

By Dina Elenbogen

A place does not wait for the weary traveler to return. Life continues and it is the houses that alter from storms and the passage of time. I can’t remember which doors I walked through to get home, although the hills I climbed to get there have long ago toughened my legs. I can’t remember the number of my house on Summit Street, only which window my desk sat in front of, but I think the poems came from darker corners. And on Burlington, my first apartment in Iowa City, where did I place my typewriter? I remember the park bench on Governor that I collapsed on once, on my way home from class, and those who walked through my unmarked doors and loved me too much or not enough.

As if through a sieve, details of a life sift through and so much gets lost. This was a place I left when it was time to leave. I didn’t turn back much, at first. A semester ended, I received my degree, packed up a car and took off. I came back twice in the eighties: Once after I returned from Israel to see how my poems would play in Iowa and another time for the fiftieth reunion of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Now I’ve come back to give a reading from my first book of poems. Read the rest of this entry »