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Apropos of our continuing discussion treating adult students as such: how much do students really know what is good for them, as far as workload and expectations are concerned?

I ask because I'm sure that I've earned the reputation (for better or for worse) of having high expectations. On the plus side, this means I have acceptably high standards and am less likely to turn out "Jaywalker bait" into the CS/IT industry. I call this "keeping our name out of the dumb columns". On the minus side, I've been called a slave driver (though only in Chinese to my face, when the speaker didn't think I could understand; that was amusing).

rsmit212 showed me a comic strip once that concluded, "where knowledge is the commodity, the customer is always wrong". That's a clever notion, but how true is it?

I'm really looking for discussion, BTW, not just validation or critique. Some of the best insights I have gotten from my blog have been through dialogue, sometimes debates between second and third parties that I am only involved in as a bystander or facilitator.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 23rd, 2006 10:26 am (UTC)
The best teachers I have ever had were the slave drivers.

I am a solid writer, earning easily reachable A's in all of my college writing classes, both technical and not. I owe everything I know to 5 women:
*My fourth grade teacher who made us write *everything* in complete sentences...even answers to math problems (but you know what, I never forget my units!)
*My fifth grade teacher who made us write "essays"
*My eighth grade English teacher who made us write 7 paragraph essays.
*My HS Academic Decathlon coach who made us write and write and write until we could do timed essays in 40 min cold.
*My college technical writing instructor who taught me everything I know about resumes, proposals, etc.

Everyone of those women graded me down. I got Bs!!! But you know, then I worked to earn my As. Really worked. In every other writing class (including much of grad school) I skate by on what I knew previously. I get practice, which I suppose can't hurt...but I don't get better.

People (or maybe just me ; ) are inherently lazy. If I don't have to work to get the result I want, why should I?

There are instructors who are unreasonably mean, but they are in the vast minority. Usually when teachers are "witches" or "hellish" it means they are doing something right. They are stretching their students brains and MAKING them learn.

For me it's often in the grading. Assigning 50 problems a night is just cruel. Assigning 10 questions a week, but grading harshly is a learning experience.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 11:18 am (UTC)
People (or maybe just me ; ) are inherently lazy. If I don't have to work to get the result I want, why should I?

True that. I skated by on that philosophy for most of my life until I got to music school and all of my teachers/professors are the proverbial slave drivers. I'm having my expectations continually challenged and made to work as hard as I possibly can- and I'm getting better.

That being said though, I think that it is appropriate to adjust teaching styles etc to each student as much as possible..people just flat out don't learn in the same way.

I'm not so sure how it works with adult students, but challenging smaller children (in my case, middle school age kids) to do the best they can and treating them like adults tends to produce some fantastic results.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
challenging smaller children to do the best they can

Again that depends on the kids and the source. My parent's tried that tact "Just do your best". And I have a severe complex about it. How do you quantify "your best"? Well, you can't really. So anything less than 110% isn't your best. I would feel guilty/smug when I got 100% on exams I hadn't studied for and miserable if I got a 96% and didn't study. If I got a 88% I hadn't tried hard enough.

I know that wasn't my parents' intention and a lot of it has to do with my personality, but I still struggle with feeling like I have deserved my successes.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC)

But I guess in this case, it's about knowing your student and knowing how they respond to different types of motivation- I'm guessing that if I had you in my classroom, I would push you to absolute perfection, no matter what the rest of my students are doing, because you appear to be That Type of Person. (which is not a bad thing, it actually makes for a pretty cool person to teach)

I'm not really sure if I can speak to parent motivation or tactics, because my mom always instilled the expectation that whatever I did academically was good enough for her. So who knows.

Oct. 23rd, 2006 11:06 am (UTC)
The best teachers made me work my ass off - but they also listened to me and let me bend the edges a little bit. The high school teacher who let me write my smaller papers as Doctor Who adventures, as long as they were properly referenced. The college prof who listened as I explained my overloading schedule and asked permission to write him a paper based on the same research I was doing for a different professor in the same semester. "They're not the same paper, are they?" "No, sir, but you're going to see a lot of the same quotes." (The first was the rise of Victorian sexual repression in society; the second was how 'Victorianism' was applied to the editing of Sister Carrie)

It's a combo of both to engage my interest. If the professor is just hard without being responsive to the class - well, those professors were The Enemy in a manner that made just about anything fair game in taking them down/subverting their intentions. Such as the Art History professor who expected us to regurgitate 5 pieces of data per slide (title, artist, medium, date, size, museum location) without context or even a proper reason - "Why do we need to know what museum it's in?" "Because I said so.") Or the painfully patronizing English teacher I kept patronizing right back in open class. "Why was Virginia Wolf talking about a man wearing robes? Was he gay?" "No, they were academic robes, like the ones you wear on parade. Are you gay?"

Toughness must come with listening and respect and most of all FAIRNESS. (And, if I had a little more time, I'd go into how being lax with a class is probably just a different, lazier, sign of disrespect for the students.) But toughness alone isn't enough to be a good teacher.

But what you're asking is what to expect of the students, and the answer there is - doesn't it depend on the student? You must apply the same guidelines to the kid who's been told always to study hard and that their job is to get good grades as with the kid who's always been coddled and told all problems are someone else's fault... but those two kids have deeply different expectations of life.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 11:09 am (UTC)
Such as the Art History professor who expected us to regurgitate 5 pieces of data per slide (title, artist, medium, date, size, museum location) without context or even a proper reason - "Why do we need to know what museum it's in?" "Because I said so."

Wow. Are you sure you weren't in my class? I had an Art History Prof do the EXACT same thing. We were expected to know that for every work seen all semester, in the book as well as lecture. It was hundreds of slides per exam. UGH.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC)
Are you sure you weren't in my class?

Oct. 23rd, 2006 12:54 pm (UTC)
To my most esteemed Banazir --

Frankly, I think that my technical subject teachers are totally on the right track this semester with regards to demonstrating problems/examples and utilizing the principles in each chapter during the problems. This causes two things: 1.) the lecture actually becomes vital and not redundant and 2.) principle goes nicely with application, something that textbooks sometimes gloss over. The worst teacher I have this semester is a 100-level psych class, and that's because she looooooooves memorized definitions. I am used to memorizing vast amounts of facts, but that doesn't mean that I enjoy doing it at nights!

I don't mind slave drivers if they are kind in their demanding natures. (That is, I have met very... um... abrasive teachers?)

Hope this helps,

PS. I adore Hiro in Heroes as well! When I saw your new icons, I squealed in the lab.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
The entire rationale behind education is that the teacher knows more than the student -- else what is the point? (Leaving aside "credentialing" anyway.) And teachers were all once students, and know what kind of expectations and workload they experienced as students, and what the long-term results of that were. So my sense is that students lack the experience and information to be the best judge of what is good for them.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC)
Hey Banazir - have you seen today's Chickweed cartoon?
Oct. 24th, 2006 06:58 am (UTC)
As a mother, I'm hoping for our children to be challenged in college. I want them to learn and comprehend subjects beyond what they could from reading a textbook. I want them to have to read, organize their time, and push themselves academically.

I do want them to get the degrees they want, but I also want them to get an education. I want the love of learning to be a constant throughout their lives.

I respect a teacher with high standards. I have little respect for a lazy teacher or a teacher who gives busy work.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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