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November 2019 – Page 16 – Weekly Writing & Blogs

Ruthie Lohmann- Project 2 Draft

Ruthie Lohmann

Dr. Randall Cream

Writing 120

3 November 2019

Writing Project 2 – Teaching without Teaching

How does an educator teach without teaching so that the student can truly learn. What does good teaching in the classroom look like? How does a teacher get out of the way so that the truth of the material is the focal point and not the theatrics of the teacher? How can material be presented in a way that speaks for itself, content so rich, beautiful, so packed full of depth and meaning that it raises the student to a higher thought process? How can an educator assess the students academic progress without making grades the reward, but instead creating an environment which fosters a love of learning. Educators who take a more backseat approach in their classroom and are thoughtfully guiding the education of the students have the ability to place ownership of learning back into the hands of the student.

What is the role of a teacher?  Socrates, who is considered one of the greatest ancient philosophers, was sentenced to death because of his teaching style. He apparently corrupted the minds of his students with ideas. In his classrooms students were expected to question the teacher and question each other. Not so today. Teachers need to structure their classrooms in ways that promotes dialogue, questioning, exploration, and ideas which stimulate critical thinking. Stimulating thought through profound questions and conversation allows students to engage intellectually in their education. Teachers should act more like the facilitator of dialogue in the classroom which is filled with various facts, ideas, and opinions. A teacher takes on the role not of professor but of facilitator. This changes the dynamics of how students learn. If the classroom time is an hour and a half, the time should be broken down into smaller segments. The first 30 minutes of class should not be the teacher presenting a pre-packaged agenda filled with facts for the student to regurgitate, instead the teacher should lay out ideas, books, articles, podcast, and youtube videos. These are set out in the classroom for the students to read, watch, or listen to. For the remainder of the class time, the students and teacher together should pose deep and thought provoking question about the subject matter they are studying in class and open the floor for dialogue. Freire says, “Yet only through communication can human life hold meaning…a teacher can not think for the student, nor can she impose her thoughts on them. Authentic thinking…does not take place in ivory tower isolation, but only in communication.” Within the discussion the students should be encouraged to ask question of each other and the teacher, disagree, and look up facts from the information they studied in the beginning of class to support their thoughts and ideas. In all this the teacher is not standing in the center of the classroom, but blends into the classroom in such a way its difficult to distinguish who the teacher even is. The ideas that Socrates presented in class seemed to ‘corrupt’ his students. But I think a little ‘corruption’ from the teacher is essential for the students learning. All the subject matter should not be so politically correct and proper, so perfectly put together with correct ideas and rational thoughts. The world is a messy, broken, and sad place. The reality of differing opinions, corrupt leaders, backstabbing spouses, universities that embezzle money, popes molesting young boys, heaven and hell, sex, abortion, etc…should not be withheld from the classroom, but incorporated into the presented material as necessary..  If all the teacher does is stay predictable by following the same guidelines and course that all the other teachers are following the predicability in the classroom allows the students to check out and become uninterested in the material that is being discussed and debated. In all of this, the teacher is not looking to transfer information and knowledge to the student but to give the student the ability, through inquiry and dialogue, to think critically with fellow students and the teacher in mutual discovery.

The material being taught  in the classroom should not be given directly, but indirectly, so that the student can discover for themselves.  Teachers need to get rid of power points presentation. Teacher need to stop lecturing the students on exactly what they want the students to remember. Stop using text books that are a conglomeration of data, facts, dates, and pictures that have been gathered from unoriginal sources.  Use books and material written by people who are passionate about the topic. Use books written by the person who did the work to understand and master the given subject. Use original sources that raise the bar for the students to reach towards.  If the students are learning botany, teachers should bring in a huge variety of plants and seeds (along with all those living books) and give the students time to be in that space with the plants. Give them time to explore, pick at, tear apart, read about, and watch videos. If the students are leaning about ornithology, bring in the books written and illustrated by John James Audubon. Bring in living birds in cages to observe, go outside for part of class to find birds in the wild and study them for a bit. For a teacher to stand at the head of the class it automatically distinguishes who should be speaking and who should be listening. But if the teacher sits among the students at the tables and starts picking apart a seed to look at because they are curious what they will uncover for themselves they become co-investigators with the students of the subject matter.

Teachers should do away with given grades before feedback. Unfortunately, grades are necessary in tracking who is learning what – but this leads to so many problems for the student. They become overly concerned with what their letter grade is. They are not learning for themselves but for the grade. Teachers first need to stop this unhealthy obsession with our GPAs and concentrate on helping the students learn for themselves. How do teachers evaluate progress in a more holistic manner though? Give feedback first on any given assignment- then, if necessary, give a letter grade. That might look like meeting with each student to talk through the areas they need to develop. That might mean testing the students knowledge in different ways- through oral presentations, through essays on the material, and even through class discussion. Education’s main goal is not a 4.0 GPA. It is not so that a student can graduate and get a high paying job. Those things are nice in and of themselves. But education is more about becoming. Education is meant to drawl what is already inside an individual and give it a voice. Every student has been given this unique set of ideas, gifting, thoughts, passions, and drive. In the education system the students humanity gets lost because the numbers have become the focal point not the person.  A shift in the grading system is necessary. In these times, because of the educational system we have created, doing away with grades is nearly impossible. Freire says, “From the outset, her efforts must coincide with those of the students to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanization. His efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, they must be partners of the students in their relations with them.” Grades dehumanize the student. Instead of looking at and celebrating all the student has learned, grades focus on what they have not learned. Because teachers are required to grade students, students are tempted to cheat on their tests so that they achieve the ideal grades so they can get accepted into good colleges, so they can then get a good job. But what then? What kind of person has this educational system now created? Something has to change. 

Kenzie and Jenna’s rough draft

Both Percy and Freire acknowledge the role of a teacher in education, in the formative assessment form, this allows teachers to have a lesser role in a student’s education. Percy and Freire both agreed that a student can’t learn from a direct presentation, but rather from an outside source. In the formative assessment form, teachers monitor students by providing ongoing feedback. One way to use formative assessment is to provide students tests to show them what they need to study or not. Also by allowing students to be able to take tests multiple times allows the student to decide the pace they go. Percy proves this would be an effective way of learning by saying, “A student who has the desire to get a dogfish or a Shakespeare sonnet may have the greatest difficulty in salvaging the creature itself from the educational package in which is presented” (Percy 4) . This shows that a student can not learn from a direct presentation. It allows the student to follow their own path or the least beaten path by learning taking assessments to learn what they need to. Friere also proves this would be an effective way of learning by saying, “It is not surprising that the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable, manageable beings. The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world” (Freire, 2). This shows if a student does not ignore the direct presentation they would not learn. By avoiding the direct presentation of the object, allows the student to gain sovereignty and to take the beaten path to further their education.

One form of learning is inquiry-based learning. This is where the student drives the class and takes over. This is done by the student who is given a problem or scenario, and the student completes this task by asking questions and figuring the problem out for themselves with no previous lecture from the teacher. This type of learning would eliminate lecture-based classes which are proven ineffective. Friere proves this to be an effective form of learning by saying “Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming—as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality” (Freire, 6). This shows that in the beginning, people do not know the answer to the question. So they must find the answer for themselves in order to actually learn. Percy also finds inquiry-based learning to be true. He stated that “The educator whose business it is to teach students biology or poetry is unaware of a whole ensemble of relations which exist between the student and the dogfish and between the student and the Shakespeare sonnet”(Percy, 4). This demonstrates the need for the student to learn without the professor. Since the professor can not see the connection between the individual student and the topic they are learning, the student must learn the information for themselves. The student also needs to find their connection to the topic in order to understand the true answer to the problem.

Draft 1 Comments

Bella DiPasquale

Praise- Good example of a beneficial field trip for business management students, rather than a museum going to meet with someone who runs their own business.

Constructive- By cancelling class to let the students hold a discussion group, how can the teacher ensure that the students will actually attend and actually discuss the course content.

Use on Percy- This is a good quote to use for Percy about restoring access to sonnet and dogfish, but the quote needs to be explained more on how it relates to the topic.

Draft 1 Comments

Makayla Medycki, Maura Kelly and Gwen Jordan

Praise- good example of a class benefiting from a club- Student Dietetics Program. This shows how nutrition students can use the course material and apply it to their own lives by learning outside the classroom. 

Constructive- give examples of a class that would benefit from a real example of a work study program.

Use on Percy- This is a good quote from Percy because it refers to exercise in familiarity, it supports that in order to learn something it is important that we can use it in a familiar way in our lives rather than memorizing and forgetting the material.