Re: The Flea

Eric Crump (wleric@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 09:01:04 -0500

Michael on Rhetnt-L:
>point: a lot of academic culture tells students that their opinions really
>don't count--the teacher's do. A lot of students "read" that traditional
>classroom in the gestures and language of teachers the first day.

Quite right. And as Marcy notes, that reading may be in contradistinction
from the teacher's intentions. It may be that the Teacher role has become
so imbued with a history of control-over-students that even the most
collegial teachers cannot effectively slip out of that suit of armor and
into something more comfortable. The gesture of wearing jeans to class
isn't as powerful as the cultural gesture of being in the Teacher's

The most important feature of the interversity might be the extent to which
it offers a new space for teachers and students to interact that isn't as
insistently influenced by the culture of the classroom. That's why I
shudder when I hear the term 'virtual classroom' because it implies an
attempt to recreate traditional roles in the new space, thereby kicking a
helluvan opportunity right in the teeth. Classes where teacher and student
venture into netland seem to me sort of like early spacecraft yearning for
breakaway speed, vibrating, dangerous, but so close to leaving the
atmosphere. However, it doesn't take much--a nod toward conventional
authority structures may be all--to send them screaming back to earth.

>***However, in academia, the feelings/flavor of teacher toward students
>isn't much discussed; and students feelings/flavor toward teacher are not
>so much a matter of ethos or ethics but of "student evaluations"--often
>quantifiable measurements instead of morality.

And that's something that seems to me requires a good bit of effort to
bring into the open. I was poking around in my web pages for the online
writing course I'm offering next semester. Most of the prose seems to be an
almost strained effort to describe the framework of the relationship
between student and teacher, between students and writing. An impossible
task, really, but I can't help but think if I don't get in folks faces
about the differences I hope to promote, then we'll all be held shackled to
classrooms past. Trying to push this ship maybe a little past its designed
speed, but what the hell, probably better to break up out on the edge than
to burn up on re-entry.

gee, I think I better find another metaphor. This one seems to imply fatal

--Eric Crump

| Eric Crump
| --and--
| "To the extent that Civilization As We Know It depends on correct
| spelling, Civilization As We Know It ain't worth saving."
| --John Slatin