Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A long ending...

I must admit that I am glad the semester has ended, both as an instructor and as a doctoral student.
As an instructor, I would be lying to say things went as well as I had hoped. I suppose they never go as planned, but I definitely think I could have accomplished much more than I did. I think the next time I teach a public speaking course, I will probably be a more challenging instructor. There is something to be said for being a bit more old-fashioned than I was this semester. The one student to complain definitely didn't understand my approach to the course or my general philosophy of education, so I need to think how to more clearly explain my approach at the start of any course.

Admittedly, I am troubled when a student considers me her worst instructor ever. She wanted everything "given" to her in the traditional form of lecture, memorize, be tested, et cetera. How strange it is when you have learned to "play the game" of education and some teacher doesn't follow the rules. The "banking model" of education, depositing facts into young minds, never did work for me.

Then again, some students will never enjoy a class that demands some self-directed learning. I'm always surprised that students never come to the instructor with a complaint. Why not ask questions and seek clarity? What is it that allows a university student to sit through a course, and then complain? Why not suggest changes before a course ends? I never was one to remain quiet, so I'll never understand such complacency.

As a student, I suppose I felt no more inspired than the unsatisfied student in my speech class. I just didn't find the work leading to new insights or new ways of thinking. If anything, my more "conservative" ideas on the purpose of education are being reinforced by my own experiences as a student.

Not teaching this coming semester will leave me free to ponder what and why certain courses are expected of graduate students in composition, rhetoric, and similar fields. Why do we prepare future teachers in the manner we do? Are we really preparing better teachers of communication or are we preparing political creatures? I think the question contains its answer, of course.