Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sentimental Education- Part 2

Flaubert's Sentimental Education (that's him to the left) is a ironic and pessimistic novel, but what would you expect from the man who wrote Madame Bovary. I would like to think I am not that dark (I am an Optimist's son after all) but there are certainly some aspects of schooling that drive me mad.

As a teacher I think I draw on all the formal learning from my youth and distill it somehow into my own approach to teaching. I would like to believe I take the best of how I was taught and leave the rest behind. The following are some general things one would find in my classes. It is up to you to decide how Draconian I am.

Attendance- Come to my class. Columbia and now Flashpoint have these serious attendance polices- X number of absences means a drop of a letter grade, more means an automatic F, 15 minutes late is half an absence. (Fourteen minutes late is OK I guess?) I don't get it and don't care. One of the appeals of going to college for me was that I didn't have to go to class if I didn't want to. Just show up to my class on time and everything's cool.

Tests- I don't like them. I prefer oral exams and practical tests- show me you know how to do it. In the film business rarely is there one right answer, usually there are several ways to reach the same conclusion. A standard test doesn't allow for options.

Writing- We will write a lot, tear it up and write some more. You have to be able to express yourself through the written word.

Class participation- Critical. For starters it takes the pressure off the dumb teacher to fill up the time, but more importantly, when we start having a dialog in class as opposed to me talking at you, the class is better.

Presentation- Almost all of my classes have components of students making a presentation to the rest of the class and defending their position. You can not manage in today's workplace with out being able to speak well and concisely.

As I read over these last three topics (I tend to blog in stream of consciousness) it is clear to me that developing good communication skills is a driving force behind my teaching. Being in the communication business, I guess this makes sense.

PeterH

1 comment:

mrliteral said...

It seems to me that what you've focused on as a teacher is the difference between learning and remembering, which I've always appreciated. Clearly this has a lot to do with your experiences as a student, and I can certainly relate. I once flunked out of an advanced science class because I couldn't manage to memorize the kingdom, order, phylum & species of twenty different types of trees, based on their individual leaves. Also, I never did the homework, but frankly, I was better off, because once I settled into the regular science class...I actually learned something! Go figure!