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.


marco and judy said...

Hello Bob and Betty, we are Marco and Judy! We are planing to move to Sierra Leone because we found i job there, but we have a child, Antonio two years old, therefore we are very concerned about malaria, especially because our son. We would like ask you your experience about this problem. Thank for your help,
Best regards Marco and Judy

Bob Press; Betty Press said...

Marco, Judy, Sorry I didn't check the blog sooner. You can email us at There is a risk of malaria and you can refer to the U.S. Department of State health advisory for suggestions. Most folks take an anti-malaria pill; not sure what is best for children. If you email me I have other contacts.