Friday, August 17, 2007

Why do teachers resist teaching?

I'm wrapping up a full week of training new Teaching Assistants and facilitating a couple of additional workshops. The week has gone well, even though my entry title might suggest otherwise. I was just prepping one more session for later this morning about teaching peer review, and I was pulling together material from a graduate student who just wrote a good MA paper on peer review. She taught peer review through very deliberate, obvious steps--some might even say JR high-ish or high schoolish--but had good results.

Doing this work got me thinking about "why teachers resist training?" or why teachers (including me) might resist this kind of training? What struck me is that teaching a fairly deliberate approach requires a lot of confidence in that approach. It also assume as high level of pedagogical articulation--you really need to know what you want. Because many writing teachers (including me) don't want to box students in, and allow for invention, we sometimes want to back off of teaching when it actually gets too specific and articulate.

Betsy also reminded me of the McLuhanism--education is violence. Articulating specific expectations for a writing assignment or a writing process is an aggressive move. Doing so is not far from telling someone how to think or act, and even though education seems to be reasonably engaged in the act of helping others think and act, it can also be approached more environmentally--setting up assignments, courses, curriculums that provide a context for thinking and acting, but not a program for thinking and acting.

I guess I am getting myself into some familiar agency-structure questions about education, aren't I?

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