> Conventional classroom practice, which offers each student a reasonable
> chance of reasonable success by simply following orders, creates a facade of
To which I have to say YES in spades. It's so easy to
over-engineer the classroom, to create carefully-sequenced and neat
assignments designed to foster what we see as cumulative skills, to define
careful and specific criteria for measurement, to not only create the
hoops Eric talks about but to paint 'em and decorate 'em real nice . . .
and I'm convinced that when we do so, we take away students'
opportunities to do the hard, messy cognitive work that learning to write
entails. Small example. Learning to use the library, say, involves a
lot of false starts and dead ends and frustration -- all of which we'd
like to spare people if we can, maybe by offering library seminars (as my
school does) or by giving people specific tasks early on in the semester,
or whatever. But those false starts and dead ends and frustrations are
points when people learn, when they make sense of what's around them.
Those moments beget questions, which beget teachable moments. Before
there's a question, there's no learning.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128
Web page: http://www.umd.umich.edu/~marcyb