Monday, February 11, 2008

Gaining Ground...

" easy it is for teachers to do three things: to imagine that the same standards can be applied to different contexts, to think of students as ciphers before and after they enter the classroom, and to forget that human growth and learning are synonymous." (19)

I found this morsel particularly interesting in Haswell's Gaining Ground in College Writing. With growth playing a central role in the chapter, I found it interesting to apply the ideas within the quote to both my experiences as teacher and as student. With a cursory introduction to the rigors of being on the educating side of the classroom, I remember wishing for the day when I could comfortably settle and be at ease with the demands of both the students and curriculum. I looked forward to when I could rest upon the expectations I have built up, ready for any situation now that I have experienced most of them already. Yet, when these desires to create a
stable educational frame of mind are viewed in light of the issues within the chapter it becomes clear to me that my priorities are a bit skewed. A learning environment cannot be static and as the chapter later points out, an "A" paper at the beginning of a composition course should not be an "A" paper at the conclusion of the class. One class is not the same as another and to fall back on standards is to exclude the human element. People are going to change and keeping this in mind as a teacher will help facilitate a beneficial atmosphere for learning.
As a student, it is easy to get caught up in the grade game. Learning should be the emphasis of the class, not the letter at the end. If the teacher finds students "ciphers" then both are missing the point of education. Mysteries should not be part of the pedagogical relationship. I as a student should focus on the gradual accumulation of knowledge while as a teacher, the emphasis should lay with guidance from point A to B, adept to more adept, then starting over again with a different classroom that needs to be evaluated on its own basis. Communication within the classroom (teacher/student, student/student) is crucial and will make clear the relationship between human growth and learning.
It's all a lot of work and now that I am starting to think about the process of becoming a good, mindful teacher, I wonder why more emphasis, and resources, are not given to the programs that create them.

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