Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Classroom High: Discovery

I'm betting that for the next twenty months, there will be a new weekly feature on my blog titled "Andrea's Attempt to Come Down from the Classroom High."  I just love learning.  The flow of ideas, the discussion of point and counterpoint, and the opportunity to excel get me all pumped up, and even though it is after 10:00 and I should be exhausted from four hours of class, here I am recapping the second night of my masters program.

For me, tonight was all about self-discovery.  I discovered some things I didn't know about myself.  Re-discovered things I'd forgotten.  Was called out on things I'd maybe not like everybody to know about me just yet.

1. I talk really fast.  I know this.  You probably all know this.  This was an issue all throughout my undergrad work at the University of Phoenix, because the coursework calls for a ton of presentations.  On the feedback forms, my peers constantly commented that I talk too fast.  I don't know how I forgot about this, but tonight after my first group presentation of the program, the professor opened it up for critique.  One girl's hand flew up.  "You did a really great job of presenting the information, but you just talk so fast.  I honestly just can't listen that fast, and I kept getting lost."

2. I agree with a perennialist philosophy of education.  That basically means that I think if you teach a kid to think, he can master any concept.  Therefore, I think that teaching thinking is at the core of a teacher's responsibility.  Guess what?  In a class of 11 students, I am the only perennialist.

3. I may possibly be an elitist.  This one is a hard pill for me to swallow.  I attended private school K-8 (with the exception of an aforementioned terrible 7th grade year at Midvale Middle School in the the ALPS program), and I've spent my entire life trying to make sure that I am not a private school snob.  But based on my perennialistic educational philosophies and the fact that I also tend to agree more with Plato's idealism and Aristotle's realism than with the other general philosophies, all signs indicate that I am an elitist.

4. I have listening comprehension skills below that of a first grader.  Again, I know this.  If you looked at my SAT scores through grade school, you'd see a clear pattern indicating this is not my strong suit.  If you know my dad or brother, you'll also know it's a bit of an inherited trait.  But boy did I feel pretty stupid when after listening to the presentation of a story as it would be taught to a first grade class and being asked to hold up my picture of a bale of hay each time the story mentioned hay, I could not answer the simplest of questions.  "Why did [crap... I forgot the stupid bear's name.  Did I mention certain Casdorph's are also known for their short term memories?] get to go on a hay ride?"  No clue.  "When did [bear] go on a hay ride."  I looked at the visual aide and deduced from the night sky complete with harvest moon that the answer must be "at night."  I even vocalized said answer.  Guess what the correct answer was?  "Friday."

5. I blush deeply when I feel the spotlight on me.  After discovering I am the only perennialist in the class, the professor moved on to the elements of perennialism in the classroom.  Her PowerPoint slide read, "Education prepares you for life.  You don't have to find it relevant or interesting."  She paused and then asked the class if they'd heard me say something like that earlier in the evening.  Sure enough, in my portion of our group presentation just before asking the class to sing a drill, I explained that they don't have to like music, but they did have to participate.  She then called attention to the bottom of the slide and pointed out that in a perennialist view, the teacher's role is to "engage students in discussions that require analysis and evaluation of ideas."  She then pointed out that the activity portion of our group project (designed by me and taken straight from the lesson plan I am teaching to my 4th graders tomorrow) was precisely an analysis of our subject matter (form in music), and that of all the groups, ours was the only one which evaluated the student's learning and gave them instantaneous feedback.  I could not have provided a more textbook example of my education philosophy, and it was honestly a bit uncomfortable.

6. The other education philosophies aren't nearly as dumb as I originally thought.  After listening to my teammate Ben describe how, at the Title 1 schools where he teaches, his philosophy of Behavioral Constructivism is essential, I was able to gain an appreciation for others' points of view.  As he put it, if you can't keep a kid out of a gang, it really doesn't matter how much math he knows.

I have a feeling that this entire masters program will provide plenty of opportunities for introspection and hopefully plenty of nights where I need to unload an over-stimulated mind before bed.  I bet you didn't know you were all going to school with me!


Unknown said...

Its all about finding yourself and finding your aim/target i think you have already give it a good name Self-Discovery..

free stuff

Sarah said...

Makes me miss the classroom! Both as the teacher and a student!
I'm excited to "go to school" along with you.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the listening comprehension bear story part. As part of the student orientation at my school, we listened to a presentation about the history of the school and its buildings. Afterward, we were quizzed on the information with questions like: when was Deming hall built? or how many students were crammed into a room in 1973? Other students somehow gave the correct answers. All I could say was stuff like "after Mr. Deming donated a large sum of money" and "more students than most years"