Olaf's response


Per your last question: check ou this article ~NB http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16783677/

Anne's Response

So why haven’t things changed at the public high school level anyway? Not all teachers in high school so archaic. I know a lot of really great high school teachers who teach their classrooms transactionally, so it can’t be that all teachers are transmissional. What causes the great divide in teachers when they move from the idealism of their college profs to the jaded teaching style discussed in “Education Begins with Philosophy”? It is obvious that all of the readings we have read thus far have been written by scholars who taut the benefit of transactional teaching styles. So why does the status quo still exist? My guess is because it is easy.

And it is easy. I could stand up in class all day and lecture to my students and then have them fill out worksheets, but I know they wouldn’t learn anything and I would be really bored (and hoarse). However, I still worry that I am being transmissional in a lot of what I do. I don’t think it is because I am lazy, because I want to be a good instructor. I think it is that I don’t have enough training in being transactional. I think it takes a lot of classroom management skills that I don’t know yet. My students need to learn grammar, something I will flat out refuse to teach persciptively. But I don’t know how to teach them in a transactional setting.

Dear Composition God,
Please tell me how.
Anne Ries

And another thing. Why does it seem like all transaction philosophers talk only about reflection. For example, the Macbeth and Ancient Mariner lessons in “Education Begins with Philosophy” all had to do with writing about a specific moment in the students’ lives. (Note: I’m having a small beef with reflections at the moment.) While I know and understand how important reflecting is in the writing process, I am tired of them. I have reflected for the past five years and I am tired of telling the same old stories and saying the same thing about my writing. How do I include reflections in my classes without marginalizing my students and connect it to academia without boring the crap out of my students? Ok…ignore me. I’ll get over my tiff; I know the importance of reflecting. That is after all, what Maher and Green did in their articles.

  • Anne-

I think, as you pointed out, the status quo exists because that which is not traditional seems radical and as the Stricklands suggested a true risk.

Many instructors who are newbies more than likely feel the sqeeze, per say, by thier employing dept. to adhere to some sort of accepted practice/standard for that institution. There was an article I read last month or so that discussed this phenomena: Spigelman's and Day's "Valuing Research at Small Community Colleges" from TETY. No, I'm not trying to throw junk I have read around, I just firmly believe in what these to ladies assert and how it relates to welcoming new approaches (or taking risks). They emphsasize that anything that breeches the norm, or as Anne states, the status quo, is looked at suspiciously and with distrust.

From the perspective of the seasoned, tenured professor who has established a pedagogy that he/she feels is working, it is somewhat understandable that he/she may be resistant to new persepctives. The issue arises, then, how to convey new approaches in a non-threatening way. I suppose I would be like, "What does so and so know, they just graduated and are all idealistic...wait till they have been doing it a few years and see what they are doing in thier classes then."

I have often overheard many conversations that complain about all these new ideas that are great in theory but not in practice. Our task then as future educators is not only to take these risks and aid our students, but to facilitate a paradigm shift in our little universe. Now, I realize its hard to "change the world" and that much of what we may say will fall upon deaf ears...but one way to break the traditionalist cycle is to stick to a method of instruction that does take risks and perfect it so that the benefits are resounding and undeniable. Those who have been oriented to this type of instrcution may then go on to perpetuate a new cycle....of course, I am an idealist...but one can at least try, right?

When one becomes unteachable, then one becomes useless...God, please dont ever let me become unteachable (thinking I know it all).


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