Sunday, July 14, 2013

Class Participation

...She was uncomfortable with what the professors called "participation," and did not see why it should be part of the final grade; it merely made students talk and talk, class time wasted on obvious words, hollow words, sometimes meaningless words.  It had to be Americans were taught, from elementary school, to say something in class, no matter what.
The above paragraph comes from Americanah, by Chimanda Ngozi Adichi.  This was written as an observation by Ifemelu begins her university education in the United States.  I thought it particularly relevant to today's standards which judge a teacher unsatisfactory when not every student in class has spoken during the lesson.

BTW--it is a wonderful book, gives a good understanding of what immigrants must go through in their adopted countries and why they do so.  It is heart wrenching to read about college graduates cleaning toilets, breathing poisonous air, being cheated and putting up with it all in hopes of a better life in the future.

1 comment:

burntoutteacher said...

This made me remember something from when I first started teaching; at Tilden HS in the early '80's, the English AP required every teacher to enforce his "standing while speaking" rule. No student could speak, even to answer a very simple question, unless they stood first. He constantly said that he would be watching us for that, evaluating us based on that. And sure enough, he came into my classroom just to check that that was going on and reprimanded me for not FORCING (cajoling, asking, teasing the students was not enough, I was being asked to FORCE them) the students to stand before responding to anything. The result? Kids stopped responding. Just stopped. He had this stupid idea, forced it down the throats of his teachers, and the final result was that it put the brakes on learning and participation. I was relieved when I left that school within the semester. Idiots are still running the institution all these years later.