Student: Is it true that teaching is a way for people to increase self esteem because they have power over students?
Teacher: Well, teachers have power…
Student: Only if the students believe that…
Teacher: winky face
Student: Aha! I suppose the answer was embedded in the question! smiley face
Power. Does it come from within or does it come from outside? The best teachers – and the best human beings – are those whose power comes from within. What is the result of sourcing power from outside?
Example: Student A makes friends easily, makes presentations with authority, navigates new surroundings easily and goes directly after what she wants.
Student B is fearful, inexperienced, gets lost easily and is not sure of what she wants.
Student A helps Student B.
Student A increases power because she helped Student B.
Student B gains confidence and then uses her newfound power against Student A.
It’s the “Can’t Buy Me Love” story; the “Clueless” story; the “I created a monster story.”
Student B got her power by association with Student A. The power came from outside herself rather than from within. Student B learns to align herself with powerful people in order to feel powerful herself.
Student A had power because of her experience, but used it to control Student B, and thus loses some of her power because she feels betrayed by Student B.
For each to generate genuine, sustainable power that comes from within rather than from exhaustive outside energy sources, she must PRACTICE her craft. Practice is the key to true learning; mastering one’s craft is the path to increased self esteem.
But then – some teachers become masters of content and become know-it-all douchebags who know nothing about themselves. They are Condescending. Egotistical. They know everything and everyone else is stupid. However, this style by one of the panelsists at the 24th Annual Ann Ferren Conference on Teaching, Research and Learning held at American University on Jan. 11, 2013, immediately sparked counterpoints from audience members who were critically thinking and had enough confidence to respond publicly. This was a relief since most conferences consist of a panel blabbing about a topic and the audience passively receiving the information.
Turns out this – getting an audience of students to actively engage – was the hottest topic of discussion at the conference, which culminated in the plenary lunch speech by Eric Mazur, Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard U. He used nifty little clickers to survey the audience which could have easily started snoozing off after a tasty lunch.
His main message was: we learn by PRACTICING and being ENGAGED, which means the lecture hall is a waste of everyone’s time.
“Some people talk in their sleep; lecturers talk while other people sleep,” Mazur joked.
It’s an interesting point after spending the majority of my time last semester sitting in lectures. The only way I was able to stay awake was by taking notes. And even then, my pencil would slip as I dozed off with a head-snap, especially if I was writing verbatim what the professor was saying. I found that I was much more engaged when I listened to the professor and wrote down my own ideas, a script, or character sketches BASED on the content of his lecture. It was as if his words and the classroom were providing the backdrop for my creative work. I wonder if there are other students who do this?
Perhaps this is a symptom of being an “adult learner.” According to a panel that addressed specific issues with this “non-traditional” population, we can be difficult because our motivations for going back to school (after being in the workplace) are different from kids who only know the classroom setting and are motivated by grades. Our motivations can range from going through the motions to get the degree so we can earn more money, to wanting to actually LEARN the content without any concern about grades.
These different motivations perhaps cause culture clashes in collaborative class projects. In the “Groups R Us” session professors debated whether they should choose teams for students or allow students to choose their own teammates for best results. As a film student who has experienced both, I can say neither way is optimal. Every successful film I have ever made has involved people outside of the classroom. Film school provides me with the infrastructure I need to execute – the majority of my classmates are not people I would choose to spend time with in my real life and I have no desire to make films with them. Is that bad? I thought I would connect with more people here. I thought I would find more “like minds.” Instead I have found many competitive, insecure rich kids who think film is glamorous.
But maybe that’s just my assumption. Maybe I have not invested enough time in getting to know my classmates. According to the “Critically Thinking About Critical Thinking” session, the path to critical thinking is asking questions.
Why am I in film school?
Why am I learning how to teach?
What experiences brought me to this point?
Have other people’s opinions influenced me to stay in film school?
“Am I destroying a student’s life because I am a tough grader?” – Magen Knuth
Law school challenges students to understand their assumptions. Those with minority viewpoints often remain silent instead of voicing their opinions.
Bloom’s Taxonomy to Critical Thinking – Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, Creating
I can apply this taxonomy to some life issues I am struggling with.
Apparently I don’t have to keep trying to be something I am not, according to “The Power of the Introvert.”
And the “great thing about being a teacher is you can re-invent yourself each term,” said Holly Owens.
Sounds good to me.