May 9, 2011

Watching Them Learn

Posted in miscellaneous other matters, Semester endcap, teaching revelations at 2:22 am by profart

I love grading discussion boards. I have a little trick for making them uber-successful, even those it KILLS my eval scores:

1. I make them post at least twice.
2. I require one of the posts to be up by mid-week.

In other words, I force discussion. However, this also means they get more learning out of it, because they have to process enough to respond to classmates and what they have to say. Some even make a good conversation out of it.

You get to watch people learn.

To be honest, there is rarely anything new being said on those boards. I am teaching basic-intro classes, over and over and over. The discussion questions are the same ones I asked last semester’s students to ponder. And the students before that. And the students before that.

Because you know what? These are all new students. They have never thought about art this was before. They have never considered the idea of a portrait creating presence before. They have never thought about architecture as controlling your experience of space before. For each group of students, this is all new. And even as they come up with many of the same answers to those same questions, for them it is new answers and new thinking.

Is it any less wonderful to watch your last child walk and talk than to watch your first? For me, not a chance. It remains a miracle of wonder.

Perhaps that is why I love teaching those base-intro courses: I still love getting students interested and excited. Or at least giving them something new to think about, if they so choose.

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