A journal-type entry and a brief essay (2-3 pages) so 4-5 pages total, 1-2 for the journal 2-3 for the essay
For your first assignment, you will practice forming your Beginners Mind with a personal social experiment. To do this, you will be practicing a routine created by Bernard McGrane; Doing Nothing!
Step 1: Go to a relatively busy public space (the Piazza when it is very busy, a mall, store, or park) and stand there doing literally nothing for ten minutes. This means simply stand there and be completely unoccupied. Do not use or play with your cell phone, listen to music, wait for someone, take a break, sightsee, or engage in any type of activity. Do not daydream or think about your schedule or future or past activities. Do not even entertain yourself with any sort of internal dialogues or fidget, hum, whistle, take notes, or do anything that might distract you from being there and doing nothing. Do, however, observe the reactions of others to you, and pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings during those ten minutes.
Step 2: After conducting this experiment, write a journal-type entry on the computer describing the experience and its meaning to you. Describe other peoples reactions and youre your own thoughts in as much detail as possible. This journal-type entry should be as long as you need it to be and can be in bullet point form if desired. This is for you to use to write the 2-3 page analysis paper. Wait, why are we doing this? The goal is to help you see that changing your perspective makes everything different. It helps make the ordinary seem new and strange. By doing nothing in a public space, you not only see how you think and feel but also how others view your inactivity. It makes you more aware of your own sense of self (or lack thereof) and how identity is constructed in society.
Step 3: Use your journal-type entry and write a brief essay (2-3 pages) describing your findings. Bring the journal entry attached to the essay to class for an in class discussion. Remember, we study but we also do sociology. Think of the journal-type entry as capturing the “doing” aspect of the experiment while the 2-3 page paper is the “studying” part.
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