Friday, March 11, 2005

Can't Figure It Out

For all the times I must plan classes and other events, I still can't figure out what best motivates students. They are all great people, and most of them are eager to learn, except for----.

Reading and writing. Yet it is my vocation to try to motivate them. I like to do so without resorting to the use of grades as the final reward, but so many of them don't get the need for thinking, reading, and writing. These young people are into "a job that will pay a good salary." Am I getting jaded? But then I realize there are so many distractions in the world today that I did not have access to when I was younger. Then it is I who must stop, think, and find ways to teach, have them work, and still maintain a harmonious classroom.

My classrooms are harmonious only in terms of people getting what they want and need from the experience. I do play devil's advocate to challenge students. Oh! I teach writing and that is both a wonderful thing to do and a challenging thing to do.

I teach at various levels now, but have taught first-year college students for a very long time. Over the years, I've observed and worked through a great deal with the future generations.

Of course, in this blog, I'll post observations like the one with which I started this post, but most of the time I'll have materials for my own use and the use of my students. I want to encourage the use of new technologies; hence, my jumping in and learning about websites, blogs, and other things.

One of the things that I can't figure out that affects teaching, teachers, and students is the mood of the country. I should say the perception that our country is so conservative, so fearful, that we its citizens must give up freedom of speech, laws that were enacted to protect minorities from the tyranny of majority rule and other things that have occurred during the past four years. I do love taking a poke at some of the issues that rise from the current situation but students have not been eager to challenge authority. They are concerned with money and status and materialism.

Where I work there are a lot of great people working to help our students see their responsibilities for others. This helps me teach community-based writing units and writing units that address the politics of power with the realities of poverty, illiteracy, and other social ills.
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