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LEARNING STUFF…everyday and all the time: learning, teaching, living

why? February 11, 2008

Filed under: Education — Ms.M @ 10:22 pm
“In my dreams a class emails me to say that they were not able to complete the reading and rather than play the game and pretend that they had, they would like to negotiate more time so that they can do the assignment justice. That would send out a message that it is the learning that’s important, not the assignments or the syllabus. But learned helplessness prevails yet again. If you haven’t yet figured out how out of touch i am, this may clinch it for you: i still believe this will happen someday.” http://radicalteacher.com/blog/?p=222

I think all teachers at all grade levels, to a certain extent, want this level of self-awareness in their students and this level of group awareness, and in any other setting (not attached to grades or income) I think they would get it. For example, I can imagine a group who just decided to read a book together and discuss it, and I can’t think of any reasons why one or all of the members of that group wouldn’t admit to not reading the book or not understanding the book and rescheduling. I’m sure that’s pretty common in book talk groups and discussion groups.

But there’s a couple of things that are just naturally part of that type of group that don’t exist in most classrooms a) the group usually decides on the book together, if even only out of a group of choices b) people vary their participation in the group depending on their other commitments, interest level, etc. c) absolutely nothing else is attached to the reading of the book except the person’s own interest in the topic, author, or discussion d) there is some level of personal commitment to the group that grows out of personal exchanges between group members both inside and outside the discussion of that book…and there’s more but that’s all I can think of right now.

So, I can definitely see the possibility of something like this happening. And I can almost see what needs to be played with to make it happen, but than there’s just years upon years of excess baggage to wade through. Middle school students, who have just begun to read books on their own and “think about them” have a hard time not falling into classroom mode and they’ve had only about 8 years or so of schooling. I can go through a stack of papers and read almost the same idea regenerated almost identically onto 90 different papers, by 90 different students, who should have 90 unique ideas about a book. And yet they don’t, and that’s frustrating.

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