Re: Re[6]: Re-examining our practice

Greg Ritter (gritter@FELIX.VCU.EDU)
Sun, 11 Feb 1996 10:40:56 EST

Bob said:
> One strategy which problematizes Friere as well as the banking
concept of
> education is to continually interrogate one's own investments
> particular practices (including language practices). Patti
Lather calls
> this, "thinking without the things you can't think without."
For example,
> teachers might try thinking without the idea of teacher. Maybe
we can try
> to lose that idea, but then we need to keep the interrogation
going as a
> process, to interrogate our losing of that idea to see the many
ways in
> which we might subtly recoup initial positions or investments
(i.e., our
> investment in being teacher -- the one who leads *or* the one
who knows).

I think that is near to the point I was much less eloquently
trying to make. I think what I was more concerned with, though,
was not how we productively recoup initial positions or
investments, but how certain forms of classroom discourse--i.e.,
"debating" issues with students--can lead us to unintentionally
and unproductively recoup those roles of "the one who leads" and
"the one who knows."

> Another strategy is to change material practices. My
perception is
> that most of the debate around whether we should be pissing
with or
> against our students, or whether we should be worried about
using that
> metaphor or not, could only take place around the practice of
> essay writing -- a practice which structures-in features of
> and submission which can ultimately only be finessed, nuanced,
> endlessly interrogated. If people write collectively,
> or conversationally, many of these points become moot.

I agree, but these issues aren't limited to only the writing
practice. In my class, I put so much emphasis on collaborative
construction of evalution criteria and peer review workshops,
that I've taken myself out of the revising loop a lot more. This
doesn't happen as much in whole class discussions--the students
still turn to me as "discussion leader" and I probably accept
that role too readily. The synchronous on-line group discussions
they participate in have a very different dynamic, though. I
think the combination of the two (synchronous on-line group
discussions and face-to-face whole-class discussions) complement
each other well. Still, in the face-to-face discussions I'm aware
that the discussion is often more teacher-centered than I like,
and that when the class discussion turns into a debate with a
student who's challenging me then it becomes unreasonably and
unproductively teacher-centred.

See my previous post in this thread for one of my solutions that
short-circuits that potential teacher-centered kind of debate.

I want to be clear, too, that I'm not saying our students
shouldn't challenge us. I am saying that when our students
challenge us we need to be aware that this is a situation where
we can easily slip into an unproductive debate that results in
shifting the focus away from the students and onto us, the
teachers, in a way that distances the students from the discourse
(because of our authority) instead of bringing them into it
(because of their authority).

> My vote is with changing material practices, although I'm
willing to
> interrogate that vote :)
> Bob King

Greg Ritter