As a final project, I have explored designing a course that I most likely will be teaching. The “backwards design” or “beginning with the end in mind” ( Robert Johnson, publishing genius) really stimulates my thinking. It actually clarifies the essential parts of a course.
The idea of the learning space as an “enterprise zone”, really appeals to me. One of my major dreads, as future faculty is presiding over a class that is very much like a wake (without the great food afterwards). The idea that the “learning environment” can live up to its name is encouraging to me. Since I will be teaching nursing the assessment-environment and knowledge-centered environments are essential parts of preparing students for the profession (which needs to be done well, since the health of our loved ones and ourselves may fall into their hands ). Now to “make it so, Number One”, that takes creative thought.
As those of you who have been closely following my blogs know, ((I see you Snarky, Jeff and Britt), I am all about democracy, equity and access in higher education. The discussion/presentation last week in class opened my mind to the idea that that large classes are potential vehicles for addressing these constructs. The focus on the quality of the teaching, as opposed to the forum, in which material is learned/taught gives me hope and encouragement. After all I would go to see the “Eagles” in the Hampton Coliseum and not wait for them to appear at the Phoebus VFW hall because of the size of the venue.
As we were comparing and contrasting formative and summative assessment, I thought of a conversation that I heard between two English Literature professors from a large New England state university several years ago. They were discussing their grading systems. The wife professor said that she only read the first paper that the students wrote, and that whatever grade the student received on the first paper was the grade that she gave the student in the class.
Her justification was that “A” students remained “A” students and “C” students remain “C” students. Her colleague husband stated that in grading papers he threw them down the stairs and the ones that landed the furthest away got an “A”, the closer ones got a “D”, basing his summative assessment on bulk of the work submitted.
It seems to me that students are put in categories of A, B, C students and so forth. Once a student is so branded, it is almost impossible for the assessment to change. Your are born an A, B, or C student and you die as one. Even becoming President of the United States doesn’t change the brand (Bush, the Second “C” student; Carter, “A” student). Technology doesn’t seems to help as it seems most often to facilitate summative rather than formative assessment.
In attempting to construct a teaching statement, I am trying to combine information from the learning taxonomies with the seven principles with passion for the work. It is making my head hurt. I believe that being good at any career starts and ends with the love of the work. How to capture and reflect all this into a document is the question.
Since last week’s class, when we discussed “how people learn”, I have been wondering about my response to the question. My first response was stunned silence, followed by the thought, “what’s the right answer?” It is not like I haven’t thought about the process of learning ( although not to the degree of scholars represented by the handouts), but to be willing to shout out my thoughts in front of God,who is omniscient, the teachers, my colleagues and the devil gave me pause. Others seem to share my reluctance. What are we afraid of? We are future PhDs, professors, senior execs, scientists. The learning environment couldn’t be safer, I mean the basic requirements are “show up and speak up.” What in the name of ” Angela Davis” is going on here?
The above quote is from Laurel and Hardy one of the most popular comedy teams of the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. Composed of thin, English-born Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and heavy, American-born Oliver Hardy (1892–1957) they became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their work in motion pictures (from Wikipedia). Anyhow, when the more forceful Oliver would get the reticent Stan into some new experience that had questionable results, this is what Stan would said. This is my comment about Twitter. I have joined up as strongly urged by Jeff and Britt, and have no idea what kind of adventure is ahead. The process was as easy as when I got a car loan for my Ford Pinto in 1976, and we all know how that turned out. But, never- the- less, I am in. Bought the ticket, taking the ride.