Posts tagged education

Here is a video that got me so excited to come home! Please enjoy this wonderful snapshot of last term, provided by my friend Erika Lygren.

-Alana ‘15

Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League

Not posting this to put these schools down…I have many friends at them who are receiving wonderful educations…but I’ve been pondering a lot this summer about what a college education is really for, and how Bennington can help support that need.  So often on tour, I get strange looks about lack of grades, lack of pre-conceived requirements, the size, etc…but these are all qualities of Bennington that (in my opinion) are put in place in order to help teach “to the soul.”  When my parents asked me why I was so set on going to Bennington, I remember saying, "At any other school, I could learn to be a better student.  But I’m already an incredible student…I don’t need to prove that to myself.  I need to learn how to be a person.”  What do you think?  

It’s a national conversation, and you’re a part of it.

— Parke ‘15

Bennington College: Kalopsia: Rachael Meyers, "Educational Microaggression"


Part of an event we had this spring called “Kalopsia”. This was an effort to address some specific issues of race on campus from some of us non-white folk!

It went fabulously, was received beautifully, and marked a time of progress for Bennington. Here is my section of the talk, where I discuss the hidden problems of studying literature at Bennington - but this really applies to most liberal arts colleges and the US education system in general. More recordings of the other magnificent speakers shall be up on the youtube channel shortly! Stay tuned!

Please take note - the faculty and administration have been massively receptive and wonderful. President Mariko was our final speaker for the event, and gave us her full support. We may have our issues, but we’re moving forward, HOO-RAH!

Rachael ‘15

Back at Bennington: Tales from Chile

Chile, a native Vermonter, city shock, investigating special and multicultural education, playing countless hours of ninja with her Mapuche host brother, falling on the subway, extensive conversations about alternative education, finding herself in her second language…


 …an adventure to be sure! A little while ago I got the chance to chat with Amanda Coviello, a second term junior studying Education, Anthropology and a good dash of Spanish. Instead of drinking in the fall colors of her home state, Amanda spent last term abroad in Chile with SIT's Comparative Education and Social Change program.  Amanda chose this program not only for its good reputation but also because she was looking for an education intensive semester. Although Spanish professor Jonathan Pitcher encouraged her seek out more of an immersion experience, in a foreign university taking classes with locals, she opted for the field-study focus, small group seminars, experiential style education for which SIT is known.

Hi there; I've recently been accepted by Bennington College, and am still on the fence about my decision. I am considering a career as a technical writer. I have lived my whole life in Texas, and have no idea how I will acclimate to Vermont winter. I have never come across a curriculum that seems so daunting, even after being in GT and AP classes. So, all in all.... my questions are: Is Bennington good for technical writing, and how easy/difficult is getting used to the school? — Asked by Anonymous

Great question. Here’s my take on it.

Any adjustment is stressful: your routines are disrupted wherever you go and you have to cope with the unfamiliar and strange constantly. This school may be particularly strange to you. Vermont winter might also be! (plus we miss 7 weeks of it with field work term…) But being immersed in something unfamiliar is an incredibly enriching experience and it’ll turn you into an awesome person who can be two different people: old self and Bennington self. Bennington self can synthesize ideas in an interdisciplinary paper and immediately articulate eloquent intellectual critiques on a moment’s notice. It takes time to grow into this self and there are some growing pains, but why else go to college? Note: Bennington self might also get a tattoo. Consequently, old self will too.

Courses are immersive, too. And taught to all levels first-years to seniors as well as seniors who have never studied that subject matter before. Within that room, we’ll meet you on your level: I’ve found teacher’s assessments of my work to be relative to my progress, not to other students. (Thank goodness. Otherwise neuro this term would be deadly)

I’m not sure what ‘technical’ writing is, but Bennington is solid for all types of writing. We aren’t big test takers — we write essays and papers and fiction and poetry and such instead. Discursive psychology has some things to say on the matter of technical writing…

Bottom line: you’ll be immersed, make mistakes and grow — whether it’s a not so eloquent class remark (I’ve mastered the art of turning something pointless into something that sounds meaningful by concluding ideas with “I just think it’s worth noting”) or feedback on your first paper (sentence fragment, consider revising). This is a space where mistakes are okay and there’s a safety net.

Take care and take it easy.
Alan ‘15

Hi! Are there any Gen Ed requirements at Bennington? — Asked by Anonymous

Nope. All our courses — whether it’s ceramics or neuroscience — are rigorous so there is no escaping intense learning (especially since you’ve got to have enough credits per term.) Who are we to say what you need?

-Alan ‘15

Back at Bennington: Tales from Abroad

A few words of introduction:

Ever wondered who’s Selina ‘15? That name that appears close to the bottom of the sidebar but never pipes in answering questions or sharing her work? Well maybe if you’ve been reading this blog for a while now you’ll remember my obsession with food or my musings over FWT in Bolivia but it’s definitely been awhile. Last July I left the states passing through Ecuador to visit my first roommate and dear friend Andrea before traveling together to Buenos Aires. Once there we met up with our lovely and equally dear friend Nina for a semester exchange program.

Like FWT, study abroad is a chance for Bennington students to burst the bubble, immerse themselves in a different culture, language, maybe study something in depth that isn’t normally offered in the Bennington curriculum, and face the challenge of finding their voice, passion and academic focus in a non-Bennington classroom/setting.

For me, one of the hardest questions to answer is “so how was your FWT?” It’s easy say oh it was “great, pivotal, awful, life-changing, or nothing special….” but, in my experience, these one or two word answers don’t get anywhere close to summing up or expressing the enormity of those seven weeks. When that experience is amplified into a semester or whole year away, trying to express, explain, or share that period of maybe feeling lost, adjusting, exploring, meeting new people, navigating the unknown, studying and living day-to-day in a new place and culture is all that more overwhelming. 

The idea of this series is to interview recently returned students about their time abroad and try to give anyone who is interested a little peek –something more than just a two word answer – into their adventures. Up first: Amanda giving us the lowdown on education in Chile. 

Stay tuned!

-Selina ‘15

imageNina, Andrea and I enjoying springtime in Argentina. 

In Defense of My Undergraduate Playwriting Degree | HowlRound

As a result of an awesome FWT, I have been able to publish an article on a widely read online journal. It is also really relevant to you as you college search… but first a bit about the organization.

HowlRound: A Center for the Theater Commons is based at Emerson College. HowlRound is a story of artists and theater makers sharing dissonant opinions, engaging in in-depth dialogue, and promoting best practices with the hope of ensuring a vibrant future for our field. Our stories live in a theater commons—shared resources available to all.

They strive to create commons-based theater, as accessible as a public library. The internet helps: we have a website with a fully archived online journal featuring contributions from over 600 different writers (and 25,000 average monthly readers) as well as an online TV channel, HowlRound TV, that features livestreamed performances, panel discussions, and conferences. They also moderate twitter discussions every week using #newplay and track the development of new plays through our New Play Map. To put it briefly, they facilitate; both by making voices available and by giving more artists a voice.

Working with them has been a privilege, and I’m honored to be featured in their journal section.

-Alan ‘15

Employers Want Broadly Educated New Hires

After a year in the office, I am still figuring out the ins and outs of Tumblr, excited to reblog this! -Alana


 aka: Employers are looking for thinkers and people instead of just students who have proven professors can fill their minds with knowledge.

aka^2: people want to hear from the minds of Bennington Grads

I really love Bennington, but i have a major concern when it comes to life after Bennington. After kids Graduate what do they do? How does a Bennington degree look to future employers? Are Bennington graduates successful? — Asked by Anonymous

There was an episode of the freakonomics podcast that compared the cost of a forged degree to that of an actual college education and asked which was the better bargain, and why college was worth it: don’t forget that the time you spend in college is valuable, not just the piece of paper that we call a degree. I mean that in two ways. First, I have found Bennington to be a remarkably enriching experience personally. I’ve learned about the world, I’ve learned about myself and the things I’ve learned in classes have helped me solve and understand the most mundane everyday problems. Learning has enabled me, I think, to be a better human being in everyday life. Secondly, you are going to develop some very employable skills while you are here. Students develop remarkable, highly-personalized original work: we don’t just learn we also do and make. That’s what our projects are about, and that’s what Field Work Term is about. Plus, it seems silly to me to blanket all Bennington graduates together to figure out what YOU will be doing after college. If its something you are worried about, you can do everything here. You can be one of those insane people who works multiple jobs during term, takes the most exhausting classes and always does extra. You won’t be stopped once you show us you’ve got the chops for it. (I am speaking from experience).

That’s my answer. Here is another perspective, that addresses your question more directly.

-Alan ‘15 

Can I get a Masters in Education from Bennington? — Asked by Anonymous

Unfortunately Bennington no longer offers this program.

~ Holly ‘13 

hey there! I have recently applied to Bennington, it is my first choice college. Absolutely beautiful and everything I'm looking for.... I'm just curious about an education program? I think I'd like to be a teacher (subject to change, however..) Is there an education program? If so, can you describe it a little? what's the basic plan? I'm interested in secondary education specifically. Thanks! — Asked by Anonymous

Bennington does have education classes — I took one last term, actually, called Second Language and Culture Acquisition and it was thoroughly fascinating. Here’s the deal: our education classes are very conceptual and are very theory based. In the class I took, we read a variety of materials approaching education from different perspectives (research papers, overviews of theories, and also some lighter reading that I would have read on my free time because it just was that interesting). There is usually something to balance it out the class to keep it from getting too impractical. In the class I mentioned, we were required to tutor ESL students, for example, or maybe you will be sent to a local school to observe a class. I think its also worth mentioning that a lot of education students use Field Work Term as an opportunity to get hands-on in classrooms for a longer period of time. One of my friends is working right now at an alternative education elementary school in Boston, another is working here in Bennington at a middle school with teens at risk of graduating.

-Alan ‘15 


The sun majestically perforated the clouds this morning, striking one lone snow-tipped mountain. For some, these rays breaking through the windows of their sleepy dorm rooms stimulated their natural circadian responses, and they rose up like the rest of their animal brothers and sisters in the woods. For others, however, this dawn meant only that another hour had passed in their sleep-deprived delirium. Why, I sometimes ask myself, at a school where there are ostensibly no “requirements,” where we are free to design our own education, do we CHOOSE to do this? The answer, I think, is because we love our work so much.

Here’s what some of us are doing for finals. Check it out:

How would y'all think of mixing music composition and public action and education? How would you work out a FWT? — Asked by Anonymous

That seems like a pretty typical / doable Bennington Plan. The challenge for you would be to figure out what links those interests for you. Do you see music as a vehicle for public action? Do you see the processes of composing and learning as similar? Do you see public action as an inspiration for composition? etc. 

As far as Field Work Term goes, often you just make a choice to explore one of your interests, but if you can find a place that has made a similar cross discipline connection to one you’ve made, all the better.

Here’s one thought for music/public action:


So if you studied education at Bennington, does your degree only permit you to teach elementary school? Or could you teach middle or high school too? And say I studied visual arts and education, would that degree allow me to teach art at a high school level, or? — Asked by Anonymous

Bennington no longer offers a Master of Arts in Teaching, so you do not graduate certified to teach in any way. 

The undergrad education curriculum is currently under reevaluation, so it’s unclear how big an area of study it will be in the future, but as of right now classes in educational policy and theory could form a substantial part of your liberal arts education, which would prepare you for a classroom certification course elsewhere. 

But it’s all a bit up in the air right now. Sorry.