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"FIELDING" RETURNS:
STUDENT WORK (2): THE SERVES


Here are the three serves in this group (students F, B, and P) from the first of three posting cycles assigned in this unit:

Student F's serve (Hypothesizing):

Ishmael initially becomes aware that the whale has taken on a far-fetched array of meanings.  Ishmael tries desperately to understand the true spirit of the whale.  However, all of his attempts fail at one very large thing and that is a true and overall big picture with every detail.  The curious mind is proven to be an no comparison to the mysterious ocean because even Ishmael quotes that “Men cannot see the depths of the ocean.”  This strongly proposes that human knowledge is always limited in contrast to what is unlimited and infinite.  Moby Dick is a great example of this as his ways are unknown and trying to decipher and truly understand them are impossible.  The book makes the purpose of stating that one will know death before one knows depth.

Student B's serve (Synthesizing):

While this is the first post, I'd like to "synthesize" at this point because the burgeoning frienship between Ishmael and Queequeg is highlighted so early on in the novel.  Ishmael seems to be a very different sort of Christian than the ones we see in Uncle Tom's Cabin.  It was really noteworthy to observe how Christians can very differently skew the meaning of the Bible.  In UTC the Bible somehow proves that a stance of racial intolerance (or, should i say, black intolerance especially) is a justifiable view. Slaveowners say that they endorse the principles buttressing slavery because it says they can in the Bible.  Ishmael on the other hand, goes out of his way to worship "the savage's" idols, and his reason is because he'd expect Queequeg to do the same for him if Ishmael were kneeling before Jesus or the Holy Cross.  The spin the slaveowners gave on christianity in UTC, looking at it from ishmael's angle, verge on sacrilege ... they totally undermine the value Christianity's message.  Looking at it this way, does anyone agree with me that, ESPECIALLY after reading UTC, Ishmael's character should be seen as a much more noble character?  And, i guess, it's safe to say that the slaveowners looking like even bigger freaking idiots, seeing as how they interpret the bible's message to mean the lowest, most self serving possible thing, right?

Student P's serve (Internalizing):

moby-dick is probably the coolest book i've ever read.  i've taken philosophy classes, psychology classes, sociology classes, and a whole lotta english classes, and this story built around nothing more than a whale hunt has prompted more deep thought and introspection than anything from any of those other courses.  unlike some (most?) of you, i have never read moby dick before--surprising i suppose to make it to my senior year as an english major and pass over one of the truly great works of american literature, but i'm glad i waited.  i don't know if it would have done the same thing for me in high school that it has done for me now.  like professor g, i had a lot of thoughts focusing on "what's important in life?" when i read this.  the trip, the journey, the expedition, the adventure... isn't THAT what life's suppossed to be all about?  it sounds so corny, but i think that that's how you really "find yourself", and on one level, this is a story about ishmael finding himself.  there is a consitant theme of lonliness present in the text as if everyman is an island.  and they are on an island both literally and figuratively... sitting alone on a ship in the middle of the earth's great oceans... out there a man is left with pretty much nothing else besides his own thoughts.  i know i'm rambling but i keep getting new ideas, so i apologize, just try and stay with me as long as you can... this is a story about being extraordinary... whalers weren;t content to settle for a normal, boring life on land... and these whalers aboard the pequod are special even amongst the other whalers because they are chasing something that others wouldn't even dream to chase... mad? crazy? insane?  maybe... but maybe they are the only one's truly living... maybe the novel ends with "orphan" because ishmale was orphaned by ahab and crew by not drowning with them... maybe they died the ultimate deaths... maybe there are no actions that seperate anyone in life... even the richest men die... but maybe there is something that seperates men in death... in a way ahab became part of his obsession... i could go all night with this, so i'll save you anymore of a headache and stop.  i guess i provided a lot to talk about, and at the same time nothing to talk about (b/c it's all just metaphysical rambling)... i told you this was the best book i've ever read.

My reflection:

The main reason for the "five eyes" is to make students conscious of options and alternatives when serving.  My hope is that practice in these different ways of "seeing" and "thinking" is valuable to the intellectual development of the individual student.  Thus, in this class I counseled that the students should practice each of the eyes over the course of the semester, and in the future I will probably "force" such practice by assigning students to post periodically in a certain way. 

There is a second goal, however, relating to group work.  My premise is that variety is the spice of group discussion, that group discussion has a better chance of living longer and better the more ideas in play there are, and the more distinct those ideas are.  Thus, I suggest that servers be conscious of the serves already made by their group members and consciously opt for another eye if at all possible.

Now, in the abstract, there is probably no reason, for example, that three serves kicking off analysis-type threads on three different aspects of Moby-Dick won't foster great discussion, and there is no reason to suppose that three serves of low quality will automatically foster great discussion just because they are different types.  But, in practice, what I would hope for in the beginning of a discussion is what I see here -- three different "eyes."  Each group member serves from a different perspective: hypothesizing, synthesizing, and internalizing.

In general, then, this is the kind of menu of serves I would like to see in a group.