Ethnocharette

by johnmccreery

“Charette.” I had never heard the word before. It is, however, a common term of art in design and urban-planning circles. The process to which it refers is being explored as a new approach to teaching ethnography. See what it’s all about at a site called Ethnocharette. Let me know what you think.

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4 Responses to “Ethnocharette”

  1. When I was an undergrad, my friends in architecture used to have these all night design sessions they’d call “charretting.” I thought it sounded fun, since my all night sessions were solitary. The format for these sessions would work very well, I think, as an alternative to conference or reading group sessions where the goal was to assemble around a text, take it apart, and try to develop an implementation for it on the spot. This would work great for critical theory or theories of pedagogy. Thanks for passing this along.

  2. Dave, thanks for the stroke. Here is a follow-up I just added to the Ethnocharette site.

    “A technique I offer for your consideration is one I developed for my seminars on advertising. Instead of dividing the class into four small groups and letting them do their own thing, I assigned each group a particular perspective. The object in question was a TV commercial. One group was given what always turned out to be the most difficult task, to provide a behaviorist description of what they saw in the commercial, with no attribution of meaning whatsoever. A second group was given what seemed at first the easiest perspective, that of ordinary consumers. Its task was to agree on what, if anything, they found interesting in it and how it affected their attitude toward the product in question. The third group were the marketing strategists. Their job was to provide a strategic rationale for why this commercial should achieve its intended effect on a particular target audience. The fourth group were told to look at the commercial in creative terms and report on how the use of language, music, setting, color, tempo, rhythm, etc., enhanced the commercial’s message.”

    And, whoops, I forgot. There was also a group assigned to critique the commercial from a social or environmental problems perspective.

  3. I’ve been struggling through the affective thicket of that site’s jargony triumphalism, but I agree with Dave about its value. I’m just getting to the post-it part of the process and am thinking about how that could work in my several-sized classes and for various purposes. I could see it working nicely in intro history classes to give each student a chance to contribute a little something to analysis of forbiddingly unfamiliar texts and therefore get past their initial rejection reaction. Thanks for the pointer, John!

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