Tuesday, June 28, 2005

following a thread

I think I am about to commit a copyright violation by posting part of a Rich Haswell email to my blog, but I am not fiscally profiting from this posting, and am using it for educational purposes:

"In Talks to Teachers on Psychology (1899), William James had this advice:
"Prepare yourself in the subject well so that it shall always be on tap:
then in the classroom trust your spontaneity and fling away all further

In the terms of this thread, if you keep current you will find that what you
have recently read or recently researched so often applies to today's issue
in the classroom, and so easily comes to mind, that your "preparation" for
class will be substantially reduced and your enjoyment in the classroom will
be substantially increased."

While part of me thinks that a well-designed, well-organized class will produce more enjoyment for all, I have to admit that the more organized I try to get, the less successful I seem to be in the classroom. I wonder if there is a crucial balance I am not achieving--maybe I have to be perfectly organized in order to run an effectively structured class, and my 80% organized just creates confusion. Maybe I am trying to make the classroom too hot, not leaving enough room for cool participation.

There were many other interesting observations on the WPA list this morning: the falling away of reading in composition courses, the question "is more writing going to produce better writing"? a question "why did the work smarter, not harder, revolution pass composition by"? Rich Haswell suggested that folks search "volume-of-writing" on CompPile, which made me think that I should take a few days in TA Strategies to search various databases. Perhaps for each position paper, we could visit a different source / new source: CompPile for starters, MLA, JStor: NCTE even? Definitely a useful activity to try out, I think, and one that could perhaps model the Research Memo assignment.


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