Some ideas have to grow. Some ideas just have to be dumped into the lake.
Reflective Journal: Entry #1 Examining Beliefs
What are your hopes for education, particularly for higher education?
I hope higher education continues to grow. As K-12 relies continually on standardized testing, higher education has to provide instruction on critical thinking and problem solving that can translate into life skills that work beyond the classroom. My hope is that higher education will continue to move consistently away from lecture based, sage on the stage education to something more practical, like hands on learning or classroom instruction that relies on group interaction and student participation.
What vision do you work toward when you design your daily professional practices in and out of the classroom?
As a writing professor, I know the only way to learn how to write is to write. But there are blocks that students have that I have to help them work through, so I envision an environment where students can explore their own writing by using a process that allows them to forget about things like grammar and punctuation so they can work only in the realm of ideas. This translates to my design as putting each part of the writing process in its own time and space; this week, it’s about ideas, next week about organizing and developing those ideas, the week after, we revise and refine. Editing comes last. This mirrors my own practice as a writer. This is what I do, consistently process my ideas. This is why I consider myself a writing professor and not an English professor, even though my title is English.
How do you see the roles of the learner and the teacher?
These roles are interchangeable. I am facilitating learning as I learn. Each student has a perspective that I can learn from. My realm of experience is all about language. Students teach me expression by using their language; I teach them how to modify their expression to match a particular audience. (How else would I know what on flique means?) This is just a small example of how I learn from them.
What challenges do your students face in their learning environments, and how does your pedagogy address them?
The biggest challenge I see, especially in teaching rhetoric, is that students have a hard time moving from summary to analysis. Summary is a “thinking habit” that students have used for years. It’s hard to make the transition between telling me what’s in a work and telling me whether or not an argument is sound. I address this pedagogically by moving very slowly at the beginning of the semester, providing scaffolded lessons that students discuss in small groups, large groups, and then write about in class.