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Guidelines for Daily Prompts

Students in the arts and social change class at Swarthmore College enter the classroom with a broad range of academic backgrounds and daily experiences. In order to create a classroom community capable of listening and being completely present for one another, I have found it useful to begin classes with a prompt. These are short exercises (10-15 minutes in duration) that mark our entry into a common dialogue. In my experience, they give all involved transition time and help create our class community. Several prompt examples follow. While these are sometimes linked to reading or discussion material for the class, I have also found them a useful means of responding to events of import (local or global). As the course progresses students sometimes request the opportunity to lead a prompt.

Examples of daily prompts

Topic: Music as a social change agent

What genres, artists, topics of which you are aware have addressed social change needs?

Pick one example/choose your own and:

1. share what you know about the artists who created this music

2. their motivation for doing so

3. the impact it has/had

4. how it has been/might be employed in an 'action' and with what group

Topic: Peace is a Haiku Song

The traditional structure of a haiku poem's 3 lines is 5/7/5 syllable count. Sonya Sanchez, current poet laureate of Philadelphia, is working collaboratively with The Mural Arts Project in Philadelphia to create a mural the topic of which is Peace is a Haiku Song. She suggests (and the website provides) topics for a haiku such as peace and: light/family/war/meditation/technology/politics/nature/water/money/and children.

1. Write a haiku and share it with a class partner.

2. Consider how to create a visual image that supports the two haiku (yours and your partner's).

3. Visit the Mural Arts Program website and submit your haiku. I suggested this final step was an art act of conscience and citizenship.

Topic: Functions of performance

Performance studies scholar, Richard Schechner, enumerates seven functions of performance: to entertain; to make something that is beautiful; to mark a change of identity; to make or foster community; to heal; to teach, persuade, or convince; to deal with the sacred and/or the demonic." (p.5 Acting Together: Performanxce and the Creative Transformation of Conflict)

1. Which of these have arisen as significant to the visitors we have hosted thus far?

2. Which seems most important in your internship placement at this point? Why?

Topic: Diverse Communities/Shared Rituals

In her book, New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development, Arlene Goldbard investigates community artists' exploration/assertion of diversity. During her visit to class, Rev. Susan Teegan Case spoke with us about ArtWell's attempts to connect diverse communities through shared rituals.

1. Choose a life ritual of significance for you/a group with which you identify.

2. Provide a brief outline of an art project in any media that would both celebrate this ritual and bring some understanding about it to those outside your 'group'.