May 19, 2008

On not beating around the bush in the classroom

Is there anyone else who winced at the following sentences from the Atlantic Professor X column, In the Basement of the Ivory Tower?
A few weeks into the semester, the students must start actually writing papers, and I must start grading them....

I knew that Ms. L.'s paper would fail. I knew it that first night in the library. But I couldn't tell her that she wasn't ready for an introductory English class.

Is there anyone else who thinks that English comp classes need to require writing from the very first week, and that faculty need to be proactive in taking students aside early where appropriate and telling them forthrightly that unless you do X and Y, you will probably fail the class? Beating around the bush talking about "skills deficits" (in the case of Ms. L., "computer-skills deficits") does not explain "the seriousness of the situation, the student's jaw-dropping lack of ability, without being judgmental." It's just beating around the bush.

And for the larger argument of the article, I will just advise that everyone read Mike Rose's Lives on the Boundary, which addresses many of the same issues in much more depth and with far more compassion.

Listen to this article
Posted in Higher education on May 19, 2008 11:07 AM |