• Michael Pena

Creative Making Workshops at Jefferson


UPDATE 11/21/2021:


After the publishing of this article, Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel reached out and expressed how her findings were not in line with the opinions I stated in the article. I want to emphasize this article was not saying every student hates the creative making workshops. The article simply pointed out, those who had grievances with the creative workshops did not have a platform to talk about their point of view. I will attach a link to the webpage for the creative making workshop along with Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel’s email so those who want to evaluate the information for themselves and reach out to ask questions can do so.


https://www.jefferson.edu/academics/creativity-core-curriculum/creativity-making-workshops.html

maribeth.kradel-weitzel@jefferson.edu



The mandatory workshops that Jefferson University has implemented for students have made many heads spin. Students have criticized the workshops claiming they are a waste of time and a waste of money. Jefferson University cites the ideology behind the classes as follows. “The mission of Jefferson’s Creativity Core Curriculum is to cultivate a confident and flexible student mindset through learning opportunities that explore individual and collaborative creative aptitude and equip you to yield novel and valuable results.” In other words, the aim would be to broaden students’ horizons. However, is that the real aim? I don’t think this is an attack on the students or anything of that nature. I simply believe there is a sizable disconnect between those making the curriculum and those subject to it. Many students argue these workshops only cater to the school’s optics and serve no actual purpose. Although these claims may be valid, the thought speaks to a more significant issue.


Students feel as though they do not have a space for their opinions to be heard. When students see each staff member is being paid thousands of dollars per class and see hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on a “gimmick curriculum,”it makes it easy to lose trust in the curriculum. During an interview with the director of the creative making workshops, Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel, she claimed “doing things experimentally proved to have a positive effect on people’s ability not to have a fixed mindset about their professions.” Meaning, you may not see a direct line between the ability to perform magic and being a doctor, but the course may teach you the ability to think outside the box or a tactical skill you may not have had if you hadn’t broaden your horizons.


This feels like a genuine sentiment conveyed by the school, yet this only emphasizes the disconnect between students and staff. University staff believe they are trying to help students “think outside the box” or “help with the mental state in stressful times like the pandemic” (Kradel-Weitzel). Yet, students don’t see it that way. Some students view this as wasted funding that could have gone to grants or scholarships. When I asked Maribeth what she thought about students who claimed staff could have better used the money elsewhere, she responded, “when you have a bunch of people in the room, no one can decide how to spend money. The only thing we can do is make sure we do not waste any.” (Kradel-Weitzel).I completely agree with this, but are students in that room? Are the ones paying tuition and helping fund all of these projects allowed to sit at the table and discuss what decisions are being made about the curriculums?


The root of this issue has nothing to do with the question “are creative workshops useful.” It revolves around the students believing they do not have a voice in the system they are subject to. The only way to solve this issue is for the school to properly give a forum to the students to express their ideas. With that being said, students need to start believing in their voices. Students have become accustomed to not speaking out to avoid trouble, but we cannot expect things to change when we complain about them. The change must have an effort from both the staff and the students if we want to see the school become a place to express our ideas and positively impact.


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