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Disturbing thought

2 December, 2009

Disturbing thought

I was looking around the blogosphere this evening, thinking about how much content people manage to transmit to their students. I don’t get enough of that done, because I am so busy being Dr. Socratic Method to a bunch of people who can’t be arsed to remember anything and have to be re-told/re-led to the same conclusions over and over again. And I get behind. And all my plans to be really good at my job fall apart, because I’m not making them learn enough stuff, and I’m not getting through what I want to get through, and I’m not delivering enough content.

I am teaching some of them how to read primary sources, though. Unless they talk about religious stuff, in which case, roughly 70% of my students will fall into ignorant credulity and talk about how clearly miracles must have happened if people said they did.

But anyway. Did you were worry that people think you’re good at your job in part because they don’t know any different? I wonder how they’d feel if they had to get through some of my medieval colleagues’ classes. It’s stuff like this that makes me worry I couldn’t cut it somewhere else.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Call the Whaaambulance.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 2 December, 2009 5:33 pm

    What with the informal, and even emergency, nature of my teaching gigs, I have never been evaluated on any of my courses. So I think people just assume I must be good at teaching or else they must be in trouble, and obviously they wouldn't appoint an idiot so I must be OK yeah?! But no-one knows, they just try and intuit form talking to me, and my students have no idea what I should be like anyway because they're all new to it. No-one knows.On your actual topic, though, I work quite hard to get the content in, but I contrariwise worry about leaving out source discussion and historiography, for which your Socratic approach would be better. But, if we're both actually doing it well, I may inspire a few future medievalists but you'll equip a whole bunch of kids with the tools to question received wisdom, which given what you say of your class' faith positions might be the best thing you could do for them and will serve them for life either way.

  2. 2 December, 2009 9:03 pm

    It's a difficult balance and just plain hard sometimes to get students to think and challenge their own and other ideas while also having learned enough information to actually analyze the task at hand. Keep up the great work!

  3. 2 December, 2009 11:52 pm

    For what it's worth, I suspect the skills stick longer than the content… when I've had students in successive semesters, and a topic comes up that I know some students covered in an earlier semester, I'll ask them about it – and generally they remember very little. They can keep it together during the semester, but the content falls out of their heads the minute the semester's over.

  4. 3 December, 2009 1:34 am

    Honestly, I was never all that worried about content, just because there's SO MUCH, that anything I included was never going to be comprehensive. For me, the content was a vehicle for teaching the skills. (I mean, we always covered lots of stuff, but I was always a very big picture type anyway.)

  5. 3 December, 2009 3:32 am

    I hope that's true. I just missed out on a lot of cool stuff I'd have liked to have covered this time.

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