Re: Three solutions for school game.

janet cross (
Tue, 20 Aug 1996 02:34:10 -0700

I've been a bit out of the loop with work, stashing these great threads
for later perusal, but I opened a few in a moment of weakness. Now I am in
trouble cause I have to respond to a thing or two.

On Mon, 19 Aug 1996, Darlene Sybert wrote:

> My original post
> > > I believe this would be as difficult to achieve at the Freshmen level
> > > as "parent as friend" is with young children. Not that you can't have an
> > > amicable and caring relationship in both cases, but I believe both groups
> > > need the security that some-one whose been there and knows is going to
> > > help them get all these scary things sorted out... and if this
> > > person of experience feels confidence in them, they begin to feel
> > > also...
> What I am trying to say is that I don't think the students buy this
> collaborator or co-learner routine although, of course, they'll go
> along with whatever rules you set for the game. Do they have a choice?

Darn, Darlene. I guess my students have pulled the wool over my eyes.
They sure seemed set on the notion that the class is THEIRS, and they *do*
have much to say about the work that is done. Yeah I guess all those
journals I have read were totally meaningless. I guess the *anonymous*
end-of-class-reflections where equally as meaningless. I suppose what so
many students wrote, reflecting on the work they did with me and each
other would be bull...they must have figured I could trace them through
the type font. Sheesh. C'mon.

> But they know who is learning and who is teaching...and if you abdicate
> your role as teacher, who will have the authority in their eyes to give
> them the praise and encouragement that is necessary for them to achieve
> the satisfaction of accomplishment, of a job well done: something that is
> important in the creative atmosphere that should be cultivated in
> a writing class: a class without the kind of definite "right" answers of
> math and biology.

I must have missed the post that said anyone had really abdicated the role
as teacher. For myself, all I can say is perhaps my idea of what parental
units and teachers *do* are significantly different from yours.

> When parents try to be friends instead of parents, children have to make
> decisions they are too young and inexperienced to make.

ONE of the many roles I have as teacher and parent is gauging the needs of
my children and students. Some need more guidance than others. I have
three kids, all needing varying levels...on a daily basis. This is the
HARD part that Eric spoke of: knowing when to shut the hell up and get out
of their way, whether I can see they are making mistakes or not, vs
knowing when to step in and insist on a time out. Kids, students, all of
us, need some parameters we can work within. Parameters are negotiable.
One of the relational parameters my children and I are always negotiating
if that of friendship. Sometimes we are friends, and sometimes we ain't.
And the wanting to be friends, or not, goes both ways. Did someone suggest
they are friends with their students? That there is a horrendous notion I
have harbored for some of my teachers and students. I'm just not sure what
to make of it. Is that a bad thing? Maybe those parameters were never
meant to be broken, I'm just not sure who would be setting those
particular parameters though.

> When teachers try to be friends and colleaques to undergraduates,
> especially freshmen, instead of teachers, students have to make decisions
> they are ill equipped to make.

Yup. Sometimes they do. And sometimes they don't. Maybe it
depends on whether or not a friend helps em out. Sometimes they learn to
discern when they are over their heads. Perhaps learning to ask for help
WHEN they need it is an important survival skill. Sometimes they actually
decide they can do it on their own and succeed. Wow. Utopian thought
there, eh?

I believe that it is important to start
> off as you are going to continue, i.e., that habits can make a real
> difference.

I find myself wanting to be very flip and point out that habits, like
rules, were made to be broken. It's not that I want to be sarcastic, it's
just seems so very part-of- the-"gamish" to fall back on easy platitudes
when discussing such an important topic: our relationship with our
children and students.

> So I think college students should learn in those first

Late breaking news tells us that students/kids don't arrive tabula rasa.

> classes, including comp, that this is the real world and game playing,
> excellent excuses and last minute, hastily completed assignments aren't
> going to cut it...come to work late two or three times and you're out of
> there type philosophy, if you see what I mean. If we are going to talk
> about "real" assignments, let's put it in the framework of the "real"
> world. Would an editor allow a writer to set up his own criteria and
> judge his own performance? No.

Again. There are many "types" out there, Darlene, and this seems an
unjustifiable oversimplification. I have worked WITH and
FOR bosses. By far the best work got done when I worked with. Perhaps that
is just me, I dunno. Different strokes for different folks and all...and
yet, when I see posts like:

> Comp classes, college, and youth are all wasted on 18 year olds...they
> have no idea how to get the most out of them...

> Darlene Sybert

I wonder. Are you kidding there? If not I shiver. I sometimes crack the
same old stale joke about teens being shipped off to work on a ranch until
they BEG for school. But I tend to crack that joke with cranky teachers,
having a bad day. Usually within the next minute or so we sigh and say,
"Yeahbut, this and that student is doing great blah blah blah." So they
don't "get the most out of them." Do we? Can we? And what of those kids
who are wringing every drop of their own being to get that A for mommy and
daddy and teacher...what about the kids who fling themselves from rooftops
because they have "FAILED" never knowing how or why because they was jist
followin' orders, maam?

> Whatever "real" writing assigments any of you have had, you have probably
> not been able to set the rules for it yourself....There have been some
> kind of parameters for you to follow and someone else deciding (with a
> paycheck, I hope) whether or not you fulfilled them.

HERM I really beg to differ here. First with the use of "real." I am so
tired of that term, and the way it is used, all I can say at this point
(regressing to some primordial state) is that is SUX. Just how far back
do you intend to trace this spiraling notion of parameters? I think all
anyone is claiming is that parameters can be and ARE negotiated,
successfully even. I'll get "real" about the making of meaning for me. The
writing I have done which MEANT the most to me, and more often than not,
the writing I have done which meant the most to others, was exactly when I
decided to do something a bit differently, something real different and
real to me. But then, I have been lucky. I have had teachers who treated
me as colleague and friend, and I have had colleagues and friends who were
some of my best teachers.

Now, Darlene, tell me that ain't REAL...


ending tirade before she gets any worse

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Janet Cross | |
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