At first, I found the exercise both foreign and unnecessary. Listening to each of my classmates names, tying these names to the corresponding faces, and committing it all to memory, would require an unfamiliar use of attention and labor. Any benefits of this exercise were seemingly inconsequential.
It was not until reading They Say I Say that I was more fully able to understand the value of knowing your classmates. Graff and Birkenstein describe an academic setting that is all too familiar: detached monologues with little reference to preceding comments. In previous discussion-based courses, I encountered a similar classroom dynamic. Sometimes, students would share entirely disconnected thoughts. More often, the comments would be connected but lack direct attribution, making it difficult for me to piece together the many responses. At the time, I found this discourse to be entirely sufficient. Only through re-analyzing my past experiences have I been able to find the insufficiency. Addressing classmates by name, directly engaging with their ideas, is achingly necessary.
Although our section of INTD 105 has not yet engaged in a large amount of discussion (We are young, we are shy, we are tired), I can already see the ways in which our classroom is starting to address the failures of similar classrooms. Moving forward, I hope we can hone our discussion skills and carry them into the larger Geneseo community.