One Second Every Day With Dr. Lynda Goldstein

Inspired by director Cesar Kuriyama's TED talk One Second Every Day, Dr. Lynda Goldstein explains how she challenged her students to find the tiny beautiful, funny, and tragic moments in their lives.

Q: Can you explain what the One Second Every Day project is?
The project was for students to do a 1 second video. Of course it is not only 1 second but is made of 1 second segments over a period of time.

At the end of the semester I have students do a reflective essay rather than do just a traditional "this is what I think what happened this semester and how I changed, or didn't change, and what I expected." I incorporated this idea of the 1 second video because I saw this really cool video from TED about this project. The argument that he, the speaker at Ted, made was life goes so quickly and there are all these moments that you just don't remember. So, wouldn't it be cool if, for a year, I videoed these special moments and then at the end of the day I would just take 1 second to represent that day. So he does that, and it was 365 seconds.

Well students only have a semester and I thought they're going to forget or not going to do it in time, so something manageable was 90 seconds. They could choose whatever 1 second moment of each day they filmed, representing how they imagined themselves as students or what their experience of being a student was at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Students came up with some pretty typical images such as them driving with the odometer, because we are a commuting campus. Some students had a lot of those moments, because the sense of being a commuter is really prominent. Some students had a lot of interactions with friends or family early on in the semester, but then that changed over time.

One of the things that every student did as they put these together was talk about the changes they noticed and things that they captured from the beginning of the semester that they didn't remember until they were doing this project. They would say "Oh that was really cool." The students who were procrastinators who didn't start until the middle of the semester said "Oh I wish I had started this earlier, because I did all these cool things early in the semester, and I don't have a record of it."

The students really liked this project, and the idea of the project was to be reflective, and this gave them something concrete to put together that they could put together to write about rather than just write about their feelings and ideas of the semester. This project was also something that they could share with the class, and it allowed the whole class to really bond. They were seeing aspects of students in the class that they didn't necessarily know. Such as how much someone might have been homesick, and yet they started to finally feel like they belonged here, and stuff like that. Fundamentally it is a reflective assignment.

Q: Which class participated in the project and how did it fit into the class?
A: This was English 15, so everyone has got to take it. It is that one class with all first year students, although I had one student who was a junior who was finally getting around to it. The project for him was less about discovering who he is as a student, because he could already define himself as a student, but it was more about confirming to him how balanced his life was and how he found his way.

To the freshmen, his presence was like "Oh yeah, we really might get there." But mostly the class is freshmen from all sorts of majors, and students who grew up from around here or students who came from New Jersey or New York, so it really is a diverse class. The kinds of experiences that students are likely to capture are really diverse and really interesting.

Q: What was your most satisfying moment of the project?
For me the most satisfying aspect was that students volunteered that they really enjoyed the project. They never say "Oh, thank you for that assignment that was really cool. We loved that one." They genuinely liked this assignment and it was great to hear that. So I would say that was the most rewarding. And it's not as if this was not an easy assignment. It wasn't just film some stuff then talk about it, it was a hard assignment to do because they had to edit and present to their peers and write something for me about the process.

For some students it is emotional, you know I've heard some things from my students that they were willing to share in the presentations that were hard. Some of them didn't have supportive parents, they were independent the whole semester, and I had no idea. They got a little choked up about it, but they felt safe enough in the classroom to share it with everybody else, and that was rewarding too. I felt like we got a classroom where students really feel safe to be themselves, and they feel supported by their peers, and that's because they are a nice group of kids and I'll take a little credit for building that atmosphere.

To access Cesar Kuriyama's TED talk on One Second Every Day, visit: TED