Today we met to discuss some readings that discussed the issue of balancing power in the classroom – how to give some control over learning and teaching issues to students. We debated when to do that, if it’s ever not a good idea to do so, and how much control to give.
We also had a very interesting discussion of the value of a syllabus. Seems there is a disconnect between how the students see it and how faculty members see it. The students felt it demonstrated a “done deal” with the class, and established the system of “Do this and get a grade.” We discussed the possibilities of taking the entire first week to develop a syllabus with the class itself, and agreed there were merits and demerits to such an approach.
Today we meet to develop learning goals for the course and to start to think about what readings would be appropriate, from the initial suggestions that Bob, Sara, and I have given them. They will have some homework to evaluate the readings from the perspective of course learning goals and other objectives of the class.
The more I speak with these students, the less fear that I have that they’ll just “pick the easiest things to do.” Part of the reason for that, I think, is that the three of us have chosen students who are truly interested in their learning, their major, and the course we’re planning. This would not work with all students. But getting their input is proving to be very valuable as I think about my course for spring.
Please post comments and questions. I am going to see if some of the students would be willing to post their thoughts, as well.