Wednesday, December 15, 2010

creative teching

Well, it's been a while. And the name on this blog isn't up to date. I mean Betty and I have been back from Sierra Leone since summer 2009. But I did say I wanted to focus on teaching next. So here goes for the moment, and please comment.
I have been developing a teaching style that stems in part from Paulo Frere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He cautions us not to treat students as empty vessels into which we 'pour' knowledge. I agree. And I have a quote in my office from Benjamin Franklin which reads: Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn. I like that.
So, putting the two together, where does that lead one. Your version may be different, but here's my current take:
1. Respect the intelligence students have: instead of pouring in information, involve students in discovering information and theories that make some sense of that information.
2. On a practical level, this has led me to begin allowing students to choose reading assignments for themselves and fellow students.
3. Critical thinking: instead of accepting summarizations of these readings, I accept only (a) arguments from the readings; (b) counterarguments students can come up with from other readings or their own thoughts; (c) linkage - the hard part - to some other readgins or cases.
4. This frustrates students looking for just lectures and exams. Unfortunately for large classes exams end up multiple choice. I don't even think exams tell us much anymore. Assignments throughout the term, research papers, and community service, give students a better opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
OK - that's enough for now, especially since I have no idea if anyone is going to see this. But if you have seen this, please share your thoughts.