Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gaining a Little Ground, for now.

I am currently in Half Moon Bay and will be back in town tomorrow, therefore my post will be brief. I will be adding to it tomorrow, however.
I think Haswell brings up a good point when he mentions teachers are resistant to change if it means leaving behind any remnants of one's old pedagogical practices. People don't like to be told what they are doing is wrong. And in the teaching profession, it's usually not entirely wrong, it's just a matter of tweeking one's pedagogy a little to fit with the students. After all, I feel like the idea to cut way back on grammar instruction was perhaps not the best plan. Now scholars are writing about reinventing grammar in the classroom and teaching it within student writing so that it's not so dry and detached from any frame of reference. We are constantly learning and relearning how to teach. Haswell is proposing we look at the new findings in the study of student development and try to come up with a way to adjust some of our understandings and teaching practices accordingly.
Haswell introduces his terms: standard, status, and change. Change is inevitable in a classroom and in a student's life. The type of change isn't always a positive one; it depends on her motivation or lack there of. But with change, comes a shift in status.
I am not entirely sure where the standard comes into play here. I am going to have to do a bit more rereading tomorrow and come back to this thought. I do think Haswell brings up some valid points about who we are teaching and what they really know versus what we assume they know.
More tomorrow...
It's Monday, and I am back in Arcata and ready to talk a little more about Haswell.
What I found particularly interesting was his description of high school students perception of their writing skills. It doesn't seem to matter if the student is high achieving or barely passing, she will always view her own skills as proficient, even above average. What makes a student view her skills in such a good light? Could it be because, as students believe, grading writing is very subjective, and therefore, they aren't relying on a grade to determine how well they write; they'd rather decide for themselves. In my experience teaching, students, for the most part, hate writing. So the question becomes, how can students think they are all great at something they hate doing?
And then back to the standard, status, change. What is it that makes a student's status change? Is it their promotion to another grade or something purely mental? If a student believes he is a good writer, has his status really changed? It's obvious from Haswell's examples that student J has reached a higher standard of writing than student F. But how? If, as he says, students forget or dismiss many of the skills they once used, what skills are they using now?

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