Re: Re[2]: The school game

Nick Carbone (nickc@MARLBORO.EDU)
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 12:58:07 -0400

On Tue, 13 Aug 1996, Michael Hamende wrote:

> If we have so many people (students) "protesting" a practice might it
> be helpful to look at the system that creates the practice?
> Traditions are great, but there comes a time when one must be willing
> to throw the baby, the bathwater, and tub out and start over.

We don't, at least not in my experience or in the anecdotal experiences
I've read recounted on this list, have very many students 'protesting'.
Most go along, rather docily. Usually teachers report more struggles
when they try to undo the more factory-like notions you enumerated
before: try not to grade, and students will ask for grades; encourage
collaboration, and there will be students who insist on working alone.

Even teachers who have in mind strategies for engaging students, for
creating egalitarian classrooms based on earned respect rather than
authority granted by the role of grader and judge, syllabus maker and
representative of the discipline, the one who is paid to be their rather
than the one who pays, even they are vexed by students who for some reason
don't want to, or won't, go along with the teacher's vision.

This discussion seems to be working out what kinds of not going along are
good, what kinds are bad, and what kinds of classrooms don't deserve to
followed. But in our practices we can usually tell a student who is
determined to be a pain in the ass from one whom is genuinely creative,
one who disrupts or tweaks or bends or breaks the expectations we had in
mind from malice or indifference, or from a sense of play and curiousity,
or from misunderstanding and miscues in the assignment.

Some disruptions are welcome and engaging because the student(s) involved
doso in ways that are smart, stretch assumptions and show they know the
material or issues or conventions and have a different take or
insight--they ask good questions or raise valied and interesting implicit
criticism that are worth exploring.

Others are hell. Built simply on animosity--the student who didn't like
being in the computer classroom; the student who thought they should
have placed out of the course; the student who is noteven sure they want
to be in college, but doesn't want to flunk and so in the last weeks
lobbies for a syllabus change, an extra excuse or some other ploy to
recoup their loss.

Nick Carbone, Writing Instructor
Marlboro College
Marlboro, VT 05344