Re: grades

Michael J. Salvo (
Fri, 23 Aug 1996 15:10:31 -0600

At 02:05 PM 8/23/96 -0500, Eric Crump wrote:
>I mean, how do
>we ever effect change if we defer action to addressing this big,
>amorphous *society* that is somehow Out There and No Where at the same
>time. We forget that society R us, that our students are society.
>Changing it means changing us & changing them. The Rest of Society may
>come along slowly or quickly or not at all, but one thing's for sure, if
>we look without and not within and around, society's dominant threads of
>belief remain safe and secure.

eric continued this thread into the radical act of informing students. i
think that's the big difference between *using* students to experiment or
brow beating students into submission, and collaboratively engaging in
dialogue. the most radical idea eric seems to be expressing is two-way
communication in education. it's most radical because so many practicioners
co-opt a rhetoric that *sounds* dialogic but in practice reifies
teacher-as-center. is this a new current-traaditional rhetoric? an
orwellian double-speak? let's all talk (so long as what you say conforms to
strict guidelines) and we can all learn (what i think is important).

if a teacher says, "i want to do X, the class is constructed to do Y, and
i'm sure you're all interested in Z." and then proceeds to X, there's a
problem. if, however, a *conversation* about XYZ weaves its way in and out
of the class, i'd feel better. besides, the teacher can't (without
discussion) accuse students of wanting Z -- whether Z equals frat parties,
grades, or bourgeoise existence. for too long teachers have assumed they
understand students. for a long time, it was a convenient enough fiction
that students went along with the illusion that they received what they needed.

our students are so various, so different from students of a while ago, so
much a part of postmodern media society and of a multicultural society that
the convenient fictions have ceased working. rather than modelling a
perfect classroom, how about constructing classrooms dynamic enough to meet
the various needs of the *actual* students in the room at any one time?

it means more work for teachers and less security, but i think the option is
absolute obsolescence. current-traditional rhetoric? i dunno. but it's
even more problematic than a transparently authoritarian classroom.

differences are becoming more subtle. the rest of our academic peers
already think those wired classrooms, peer workgroups, and student-centered
classrooms are a bit wacky. i guess i'm wondering if we can/should begin to
drop more and more of the structures of traditional classrooms, like set
time schedules and attendance requirements, in favor of some no less
structured but less confined network models, models that can be delivered
over a distance.

and do it without creating teacher overloads, 500 student classes, or
product-centered learning?

one of my favorite essays is now on-line (has been for a while), henry
giroux's "slacking off: border youth and postmodern education" on JAC's site: