Re: The school game

Marcy Bauman (marcyb@UMD.UMICH.EDU)
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 10:05:18 -0400

On Tue, 13 Aug 1996, Richard Long wrote:

> . . . we have become that
> which we detested. The authority. And as we beat ourselves for this we in
> turn, quite naturally, praise students who thwart, trick, beat the system,
> and the ability to do those things becomes signs of creativity.

Yup, that's the game I was talking about, all right. Has to do
with authority, and not with learning. And if we reward the students who
thwart creatively, then we're good teachers; those rewards are a sign (to
us) that we haven't become those nasty authorities we hate.

But I want a different game altogether. I want a game based on
mutual respect and cooperation. I want my authority to come from the
fact that the people in my classes grant it to me because I know more about
certain things, not because I have the power to encourage or discourage
thwarting. My original question was to wonder whether it's possible to
reconfigure the classroom so a different game ( a non-game, or a New
Game, for those of you who remember those: the slogan used to be "Play
hard, play fair, nobody gets hurt," and I'll buy that) can be played
there. Beth says yes and no; people come to us with twelve years of
experience psyching out the teacher, and reminds me that I'm just one
teacher among many that these people will have.

So if I really want to make things different in my class (well, as
different as the institution will allow), I need to proceed in good
faith and assume others will do the same. Which is why I can't reward
thwarting, no matter how clever: it's not a good-faith move. I
generally consider it a sign that I've failed to create the kind of
atmosphere I set out to create.


Marcy Bauman
Writing Program
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128

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