The Siren Song of the Deadline. This the weekend at the end of the second week of class and, I am sad to report, despite all my best efforts to get the students to work ahead, make their own schedule, take charge of their class agenda, etc. etc., the large majority of students, as always, are letting my totally arbitrary deadlines set the schedule for them. I've still got 91 students (more than usual; I aim for 80-85), and of those only 16 have finished today's assignments already. The remaining 75 have waited until the deadline, today... and because of that, a large number of them will also be taking advantage of the grace period on Monday morning because they won't actually finish today's work today. Or else they will finish it in haste, and it just won't be as good as if they had done it without the ticking of the clock determining the amount of effort that they put into it. Please note: I do not blame the students for this; I blame 16 (or more) years of formal schooling where we are constantly telling them what to do, where to do it, etc. (not much talk about why)... developing in them a passivity that has terrible and far-reaching effects. College faculty and administrators love to talk about critical thinking skills. Heck, I would like to talk about student AUTONOMY and the way that most students assume (often rightly) that they have little or no autonomy at all. What's the good of critical thinking skills if you are not allowed to make even the most basic decisions about when and where you are going to do your learning, with real choices about what you are studying, etc. ....? That's a rhetorical question, of course: it is no good at all turning students into passive and obedient robots who do our bidding, and nothing more or less than our bidding. But as http://etale.org/main/2013/12/21/what-behavior-is-reinforced-16000-times-by-high-school-graduation/pointed out: "If a school year includes 180 days of class and each day has 6-8 bell rings, then that adds up to over 16,000 rings by the time a student graduates from high school. It is the first time that I realized what this means about the curriculum of most schools in the United States. It means that responding to bells is one of the more reinforced and near universal lessons in a school experience."
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- "Heck, I would like to talk about student AUTONOMY and the way that most students assume (often rightly) that they have little or no autonomy at all."
Is that a lack of the skill "How to learn independently"? Or something similar? Or something we call "lockere Konsumentenhaltung" over here (easy peasy consumers attitude)?Jan 25, 2015
- Oh, yes, CONSUMER is very much the problem, eating the prepared food that is put in front of you instead of learning how to cook!!! Autonomy, independence, choice, responsibility: it is a whole constellation of words that do not fit with the way most schooling works, especially in elementary school and high school. So, even though students CAN make more choices in college, they are so unfamiliar with the concept that it does not come easily. That's what I see among my students: some seize their independence in my classes and run with it, which is fabulous... but they are always just a small minority. The other students are good students, absolutely: but a big part of what they consider being a good student is waiting patiently until they are told what to do and when to do it... and I feel really trapped by that. I would love to make my classes even more free-form, even more student-driven, but I'm stuck with a culture that makes it very hard for the students to take charge, esp. since the only thing the university cares about in the end is the (damn) grade that the students receive... which means it is the only thing that many students care about also.
I used to ask students what their goals were at the beginning of the semester, but since 95% of them told me their goal was to get an A, I was so depressed that I stopped asking. And even the ones who had other goals ALSO had the goal to get an A.Jan 25, 2015
- Same to observe over here Laura. We need to revive a culture of learning which already existed 20 or 30 years ago. More educational flâneurs on the learners side of the educational field. An appetite and passion for learning.
To ensure there are no misunderstandings: There should be goals, and the students should strive to reach these, but in my opinion, the way to reach this goal is in urgent need for some windings.Jan 25, 2015
- Urgent windings: I love it!!!
And this word flâneur is one that I learned only recently, here at G+ I think.
But I fear we are seeing instead all this interest in data analytics, testing, competency standards... reducing autonomy and stopping the winding from going anywhere! Argh!Jan 25, 2015
- The educational flâneur is coined by(if I remember correctly) and we are still not done, thinking about this flâneurical mindset/topic/whatever. ;)
No step back for these analysts/testers/standard loving administrative officers, good education must resist.
I feel very rebellious at the moment.... ;-)))Jan 25, 2015
- Oooooooh, Rebellion Sunday!!! :-)Jan 25, 2015
- No, I cannot take credit for coining the word ‘flâneur’ (!) but I shared an article about it. Yes indeed we need to do something about encouraging more flâneurs. However I see what is saying that even though she offers freedom of choice to students, most are happier to wait and take instructions as this is the culture they are used to. Loved the counting of the bells, how utterly depressing…..Jan 25, 2015