Up until this quarter, I’ve never experienced anything like a contemplative practice. I have never had a professor turn the lights off and ask the students to think about a particular subject. I’d never even heard of it, so when Professor Litfin handed out raisins and turned off the lights, I was as confused as I could be. Personally, I don’t think contemplative practices are the way that I learn. I see where they could be helpful for others, but I don’t feel as though I gain much from each one we do as a large group. I think contemplative practices that students can do on their own could be much more helpful; while writing the fifth takeaway, I reflected on gendered food and definitely gained some perspective from it. However, it was a fairly different process seeing as I researched the topic and reflected on past experiences I had with gendered food. For example, given extra time and resources, I researched to find out about the “Lady Dorito” that Doritos was considering making. They were contemplating creating a lady-like chip that would consist of less crunch and mess – because women couldn’t possibly eat the normal Doritos that they’d been eating for decades. I took time after reading about this to think about all the gendered food I’d eaten in my life (i.e. pink GoGurt, princess Goldfish, etc). I feel as though that was more helpful to me than the in class contemplative practices.
Contemplative practices seem to be more of a passive learning tool, and I’ve always been more of an active learner. I prefer experiences where the professor does not simply talk at the students but turns it into more of a conversation between the them. Personally, I do not gain much from contemplative practices simply because of this distinction: I would rather have a conversation about the material than listen to someone tell me about it. I feel as though the practices we have done in class regarding the raisin, the chocolate, etc., have been the students quietly listening rather than participating in the conversation – the very definition of passive learning. Though I am not this kind of learner, I recognize that it can be very insightful to others to have these experiences and moments of reflection.