Re: snapshots -Reply

Peter Sands (sands@POLARIS.UMPI.MAINE.EDU)
Wed, 17 Jan 1996 12:05:45 EST

Let me be clear about one thing. I never said I did not want or
encourage students to critique me, my class, writing instruction, or
whatever. In fact, I spend most of the semester recursively
critiquing my own educational practices *with* the class. (Well, I
try to, anyway; success is not for me to judge.) Neither, pace Mike, did I make
any claims to be describing
a process rather than a goal. What I said is that I try to make the
space of the classroom a forum for critique, but to do so w/in the
context of a critique of critique. It is *never* enough in the long
run to question
mindlessly--that is the intellectual equivalent of the Uzi
streetsweeper submachine gun: it shoots a lot because it is completely
inaccurate. You hit everything in the hope of hitting something. We
have 14 weeks or less with our students. I try to teach them to be
skeptical, curious and interested, but not to waste their/our time
chasing down *everything*. I don't wait for the critique to arrive. I
work hard to engender, even force the issue. But when you ask for
*anything* you get off-topic questions like "why did you cut your hair that
way"? Interesting models of resistance and classroom interaction, but
largely useless in teaching a mode of critical inquiry.

At any rate, there is something to be said for the fact that we are
teachers in the classroom . . . teaching, even teaching writing,
entails the transmission of content *and* habits of mind. Even Freire
reminds us that the student-centered classroom is not the
teacher-absent classroom.
Peter Sands
University of Maine at Presque Isle
181 Main Street
Presque Isle, ME 04769
(207) 768-9459