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Author: Kellyn Borkenhagen

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Changing Education through Teaching: Borkenhagen ’22 CEpress & South End Technology Center in Boston, MA

Oct 09, 2020

During this co-op, I had the chance to work two jobs that will help me further my experiences and expand on my resume. Both the South End Technology Center (SETC) and Critical Exploration Press (CEpress) are companies dedicated to the different teaching methods that can be used to give students the ability to learn in a unique way.

For CEpress, one such teaching method lets students figure out the answer to questions through their own exploration of the subject. While the teacher will offer some guidance, it is up to the student to guide themselves through the process of learning. My job for CEpress consisted of compiling the different journals, papers, articles, and videos created by Eleanor Duckworth, a Harvard professor who specialized in a pedagogical approach called Critical Exploration in the Classroom. I categorized these resources to put onto the CEpress website to be used by those who are interested in Eleanor’s work.

My second job was at the South End Technology Center, which was created by the activist Mel King and specializes in helping low-income kids, people in recovery, and those recently released from incarceration by giving them the opportunity to learn about technology for free, while also tackling issues that occur in their everyday lives, such as gentrification and poverty. They also provide the only free Fab Lab outside of MIT, where anyone can come in and learn about any technology-based skills that are available at SETC. This includes 3D printing, Lasercutting, Vinyl prints, coding, and computer skills. I worked with SETC to help with their Learn to Teach, Teach to Learn program, where they employ teens in Boston to teach younger kids different skills involving the tech that they have.

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Unrestricted Art: Borkenhagen ’22 at Treehouse Crafts

Mar 15, 2019

My past co-op was a self-designed project that involved me working with my sister to create different art pieces to sell online and at the Yellow Springs Street Festival in early June. She had decided to start her own small art business due to her desire to work independently and to be able to create things that she would enjoy creating, so I began helping her out.

On a day-to-day basis, I would work with clay, molding it into different art pieces (including small planters and terrariums) before painting them. These designs were created based on either ideas from my sister or me or based on custom orders sent in. At the beginning of co-op, my work wasn’t limited to art though. I had to do some more business-oriented tasks, such as being completely in control of all social media and the online Etsy store itself. This allowed me to make new posts, add links, and list any new products we created.

The transition to working on my own in this way was difficult at first, however. The amount of time I spent wondering what I should be doing during the average workday was kind of astonishing. I’d always had someone giving me direction during any previous job I’d had, and wasn’t ready for the creative independence I was given. During the first week, I was given the task to sculpt, bake, and paint anything that I wanted. It was harder to do than I thought and, at the end of the week, I discovered that someone was already selling products similar to what I had created. I didn’t like working without some form of planning or direction given by someone, as it made me feel as though my work was insignificant, which led to another problem.

I had a lot of insecurity when it came to the work I was doing. I didn’t like having my art judged, even by my sister; it still felt bad when she had criticism for some of the pieces I would make. I’m hoping to eventually get comfortable enough with my artwork to eventually sell them myself, as I feel it will also help with any anxiety I have with other works I do in the future.