I’m preparing for a talk I’m supposed to give at our Faculty-as-a-Whole (I love typing that – feels so Victorian) meeting next week, and I’m feeling a bit anxious and rebellious, never a good thing for me when I talk with my colleagues.
Concerns arose, ones that I’ll try to talk about, and ones that worry me in the context of how difficult change is to bring about (that’s a sentence that every time I type it, which isn’t that often, I think ‘man is that dumb’ – and yet it keeps biting me on the proverbial ass). I’m describing the situation secondhandedly, but I can picture the scenario (and the reaction) and am confident that what I’m narrating is what happened. This same picture happens all over the place, and in part accounts for my growing frustration with hearing the words ‘my’ and ‘students’ placed together, even though I do this all the time, because folks who routinely put those words together have a firm conception of what being a professor means. It’s a conception I don’t share.
As my partner and I discussed what we were going to do at this meeting, he mentioned that he had suggested that we facilitate a session in which we just listened as our colleagues tried to discursively sort out what they had just been shown. Made sense to me, but others didn’t concur – we had to teach them something, and just listening wasn’t teaching.
What I really need to say, and perhaps even to try to convince some of my colleagues of, is that perhaps it’s time that we took a serious look at swapping roles, or better yet, completing swapping our current paradigm of who does what in the learning process. Why? Well, it’s a difficult change for faculty to make, as evidenced by the process of deciding what to discuss in this meeting.
I know that I’m being unfair – the people who said this are smart and dedicated and experienced faculty members, their concern for students well-documented. Still, what we had just heard was an exact replica of something I have heard from students rarely but persistently throughout my years trying to teach actively: “why aren’t you teaching me? I’m paying money to go here – you need to teach me something!”
It’s a valid critique, especially when we consider how expensive college is and how it is no longer a guarantor of a white collar job. Still, I was a bit disappointed to hear it from faculty, especially faculty who are hypothetically interested in active learning.
As usual, XKCD was there ahead of me.