The Dangerous Blog for Grad Students

A How-To Tale

“Can Teaching, of All Things, Prove to Be Our Salvation?” Precis November 11, 2008

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 6:39 am
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Kurt Spellmeyer

There once was a group at Rutgers University that acknowledged that fact that students were not graduating with an understanding of modern society.  As they debated what to do about it, many departments offered their views on what students should be taught, but it was soon evident that no consensus would ever be reached.  And so, instead of continuing along that track, the committee decided to instead look at envisioning what problems students might face in the future and create classes to prepare them for those happenings.  In theory, this was the right way to go, but it was rather hard to execute, especially when it came down to have teachers from different disciplines work together or teach something that was not especially in their field.  

But, oddly enough, even after the movement died out, the idea seemed to live on, and even work, in English first-year composition classes.  Yes, students everywhere still to basic writing exercises, much like they participated in in high school.  But, it was also possible for them to move on and look at more challenging texts – texts that illustrated what was going on in the world in a way that was new and maybe even difficult for students to understand, but that pushed them to try and grasp the concepts being stated.  Students could be encouraged to look at the world around them and realize that they many have more to learn than just what college professors can teach them.  These writing classes embrace students of all different disciplines and can take up the Rutgers plan of trying to prepare students for what may lie ahead of them. 

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