Sunday, October 26, 2008

Still Learning, Part 3a - Students' Assumptions

Had I sat down to write this on Tuesday evening, therapy writing would have poured forth. Many people with whom I came into contact that night got to hear the live version of my frustration. But thankfully, the time gap has produced some prospective.

Towards the end of Tuesday's class, something that I have been saying almost every week since class 4 finally got through to the students, probably because their major paper is due in a little over two weeks. When I reinformed them that they would have to support their arguments with citations, they reacted by informing me that they didn't write that way last year and were forbidden from such a practice. Their nonverbal reactions proclaimed, "Professor, you don't know what you are talking about."

I have only two classes left to attempt to overcome the unspoken moron label I've now "earned." I think that begins by urging them to put aside their assumptions--that this class would be a continuation of their last two writing classes. My job is to teach them to write something they've never been instructed on how to write before, and yet they are convinced that they should be able to use the same format that they used last year. Even though some have admitted that this "new way" sounds more logical and makes more sense to them, they still think I'm off base because I'm asking them to go against what they learned in the past.

Jesus faced similar attacks as He taught. I've always wondered how the people in Jesus's day could fail to believe the gospel when they had God in-the-flesh standing in front of them. But I think I've failed to account for how hard the law was drilled into them. Everything they did was guided by the law, and this grace that Jesus preached was a foreign concept. Sure, it sounded good, but it wasn't what they were used to. So they resisted.

In other words, this battle I'm facing is nothing new. Resistance is a normal response when asking people to change their ways. I just didn't expect the students to assume that old rules applied to a new type of writing assignment. But, I'm hopeful that the lure of a good grade will convince many students to put aside their old ways of writing and adopt the new ones.


Renae said...

Stay strong, Alyssa! You may feel like they think you are, as you said, a moron, but that just proves how much they need you to push them a little harder to learn what you are teaching them.

And as you said, if they want a good grade, they will do as the teacher asks . . .

I'm so proud of you! You go, girl!

Sars said...

Great parallel, Alyssa!

Alyssa said...

R - I appreciate your encouragement!

S - Thanks!

Krista said...

Yikes-- sorry they responded that way. YOU are the teacher and I, too, love the parallel you made!