Re: snapshots -Reply

Wed, 17 Jan 1996 11:51:54 -0500

On Wed, 17 Jan 1996, Bill Bolin wrote:
> It certainly looks as though Nick's response takes us back to Pete's
> assertion, some few messages ago, that the "imparting of skills" is
> inherently value laden. Whether we want to adopt an attitude of assent or
> of healthy skepticism or what have you, our values inform our teaching
> (including our judgment of students and/or their work).

and peter sands wrote:
> I agree with Nick: when I try to teach my students to question
> everything, including my teaching and ideas, I try to do so within a
> context of reasonable inquiry. Not "question everything" for the sake
> of questioning, but *examine* everything to see if it needs to be
> questioned, analyzed, accepted, rejected, modified.

i admit that i was uncomfortable seeing the list of four "important"
values which all amounted to forget-what-the-teacher-says, and i think
bill's point that we are returning to the assertion that our teaching
conveys our values, but i think peter's post describes the *goal* rather
than the process.

when my students arrive in my classes, i find they are hesitant to make
the most minor of criticisms and unable to construct a critique (although
i assert they are able -- students are the most astute critiques of
education. just think of all their years of experience!). not a new
situation and many people have noticed and commented that students do not
or will not make effective critiques. however, when teaching to critique,
i think it happens in circumstances beyond our control that students begin
to critique everything, especially us, and it needs to be encouraged.

then, when students are *comfortable* in critique it can become a refined
skill. i think it's got to get out of hand, to the point where students
realize its *power* -- the power of critique, before it becomes a useful

finally, it is often the teacher and the classroom and the pedagogy that
finds itself under the microscope of student critique in such classes,
and it is imperative that the instructor allow stong and pointed critique
of her/his classroom. "class, i encourage you to critique everything,
you must not assume you are getting the whole truth." "but mike, you're
not giving us the whole truth! there are times, even in this class, when
you expect us to just accept what you say!" "ah, i never saw it quite
that way . . ."

now, does this class persue this critique or do i panic and say that it's
not important? i, for one, try to pursue the critique if and when it
arrives. to do otherwise is to contract oneself in such a way that the
class may not be interested in the class project any longer . . . if that
class project is stated to be "critique."