black-and-white photo of a group of students in front of Day Hall
April 28, 2022

Something Borrowed, Something New

Is it better or worse to hear what you expect?
by Adya ’22

This week, the bias group circled around the idea of how bias is deeply intertwined with both history and identity. In some sense, bias seems immune to change and that is what makes it so powerful.

Last week, our group was focused on how we reduce bias in the data we are trying to collect. How do we make sure our story is representative of the institutional experience at Phillips Academy? However, as our data begins to trickle in, the questions have shifted. Now we're asking, how do we reckon with this new information and what can we create from it?

Something of a priority to our group is how we can get the data we collect to people. Throughout our time as high schoolers, we have seen how data simply gets left behind; perhaps in its form or end result, or perhaps because it doesn’t conform with what is expected. As such, our group hoped to use the data we collected not simply as a series of numbers or data points but to tell the story of housing at Andover.

As we looked at the history of housing in old yearbooks and dorm pictures, then interviewed faculty about the housing process, we began to learn about the why of the Andover housing system. Moreover, we learned about the why nots. Can these systems be changed, or like bias, are they held together by history and norms? Our investigation led to stories told by voices throughout campus. From house counselors to deans, to students themselves, we began to piece together a new picture of how housing, especially at such a critical age for teenagers, might impact the values and social circles of a society we will see for years in the future. In our surveys, we asked about the stereotypes of dorms, clusters, and housing processes and whether these held any connections to each other. We were curious about the divisions between adults and students, administration and faculty, and even between students to see whether our biases aligned with our status, identity, or the norms of those around us.

While the Workshop looks at what education should and can look like in the future, we are beginning to piece together what housing may look like in the future and how it can contribute to the educational experience. With the stories we continue to draw upon, our website combines this history with the present. Student voices populate each section while adult ones drive our knowledge.

As we spoke with some faculty, we discussed what housing might look like if we were to live in an ideal educational environment. We looked at how familiarity, comfort, diversity, and community might come together in a redesigned housing environment. Whether it be all-gender dorms of 40 people or small residential dorms that feel like home, we look to see how housing might change the lived experience of our students. How it will change or break the stereotypes and misconceptions we hold on campus. How it will redefine how our community connections. And, ultimately, what kinds of stories we hold close to the legacy of Andover and ourselves.

The "Bias" group includes Alexa ’22, Alex ’22, Ralph ’22, Adya ’22, Sabby ’22, and Ali ’22.

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*THE WORKSHOP

Each spring term, the Workshop welcomes 20 seniors to this interdisciplinary, project-based course. With an eye toward reimagining what school can be, the Workshop is the senior’s onlyacademic commitment for the entire term. Instead of splitting their time and attention into units of distinct courses and fields of study, they work closely with peers, faculty, and community and global partners on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single theme. Within a chosen theme, students explore areas of personal interest. This year's theme is Experiments in Education.

During the first few weeks of the term, students are working on one of four faculty-led projects. We will be featuring blog posts by students during this time.

  • Historiography (led by Chris Jones)
  • Listening to Buddhists in Our Backyard (led by Andy Housiaux)
  • Andover’s CAMD Scholars Program: Advancing DEIJ Teaching, Learning, and Community Outcomes (led by Corrie Martin)
  • Bias (led by Nicholas Zufelt)

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The Tang Institute at Phillips Academy is a center for the advancement of teaching, learning, and partnership. To learn more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Notes on Learning.

Categories: The Workshop, Featured

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