Soooooo. I asked a question about whether it might not be a bad thing for teachers to embrace the role of gatekeeper if it helps students to better articulate and achieve their own personal goals. I kinda screwed myself a little bit here in setting up this, my 3rd, blog post. After all, I went a little far afield with that initial question and thus it is making it a bit difficult for me to bring the various readings back to that point. I mean, discussing how reading is taught within the context of a writing class does not directly relate in an obvious manner.
However, the more I thought about class discussions we’ve had- especially about technology and its use in the classroom, has me thinking that maybe there is a direct correlation in how we choose what it is that we teach and the extent to which we go to choose texts that are “engaging” to students. Creative lesson plans that incorporate Twitter or Facebook or Smart Boards may do a better job of keeping students interested in our class- but then again so could watching movies or playing sports or anything that students like to do beyond reading a book. If our goal is to make students happy to be in our class and eager participants, why should we ever impose anything on them that they don’t want to learn?
Now I am talking about college level here, where students are not forced by the state into compulsory attendance. If a student would prefer to read Tattoo Quarterly and analyze that instead of Hamlet, maybe the University is not where they should be. This is not an endorsement of the banking system, I’m not suggesting that students sit there passively and take whatever educational punishment I give them. However, if students are not finding themselves sufficiently engaged by a text as to produce the desired critical thought necessary for acceptable work, after we have examined our curriculum to eliminate needlessly difficult or esoteric works, maybe then we need to start asking ourselves if our clientele our too broad- many of their desires too incompatible with the aims of a University education.
(This is not a value judgement of a University education verses any other kind. All educations are what the participants make of them whether they occur @ Stanford, in a technical school, or on a prison yard).