Today, as I stood in front of my developmental writing classes and deluged them with information, I was overwhelmed and fatigued; I can’t imagine how they must have felt.
As I think about this first day tendency of many teachers, I imagine the students may feel like they’re looking at a tidal way of expectations coming their way. I wonder if they think they’ll make it. Will they be able to absorb so much information so quickly today? Throughout the semester?
I’ve been thinking about this more and more as the college where I work becomes more and more invested in “accelerated” course programs and online classes. Are we trying to give our students so much information so quickly that we’re cutting out all space for reflection, absorption, and understanding? If so, what then is the value of education beyond the piece of paper that signifies nothing but the ability to retain information for a couple of weeks, just long enough to take a test or write a paper?
True education, in my estimation (and feel free to disagree), is the ability to analyze and think of yourself while respectfully hearing and engaging with the idea of others. I’m not sure that’s what education is doing – really.
So tomorrow, when I meet with my third class for their first day, I will slow down the flow of information, step back, chat with my students, and hopefully keep them from slipping into the quicksand that we’re now calling a college education.