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What I Learned

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: May 18, 2006
Latest Update: May18, 2006

E-Mail Icon jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Index of Topics on Site On Transparent Learning without Tests

Grace Mosequera wrote a beautiful summary of learning in the chaos of a Dewey-Freire-Bruner community activity classroom. Sometimes I wonder if the burequcracy is right and if I'm really fighting an uphill battle to no avail. Those of you who take the time, like Grace, to share such "good dogs" as this, help me reaffirm my personal belief that liberal education is and should be and always will be available to everyone, if we just want it badly enough to share it with each other even when our institutions reject it. Feedback is essential. Tests and grades suck. They're not feedback; they're labelling, and I'll be glad to document that for anyone who doesn't get it.

And not all those resources are left perspective. They include James J. O'Donnell, Provost of Georgetown University, who, as Provost emphasizes the empowerment and active participation of Georgetown students. Though I don't know his position on grading, I do know that he opposes traditional testing as a measure of what the student has learned. (from his old website)

Here's Grace's version of what she learned about empowerment in learning. I think it comes across better when it comes in your own words, and I think Dewey and Freire and Bruner, and all the rest of my heroes, like Che, would agree with me.

In Message No. 13417 on transform_dom Grace wrote:

Hi Jeanne!

I hope you're feeling better. Well, although I've seen you & spoken with you regularly throughout the semester, I just wanted to make sure you knew what I was learning, so I decided to compile a short summary of what I've learned in your class throughout this semester. I've learned a lot over the course of this semester through exploring habermas, through your in-class lectures, and most especially with the hands-on projects we've been doing. They've impacted me personally, and I find myself evolving because of it.

First, I want to mention the impact of your discussion about Guelphs and the Guelph world on me, and my application of it to my daily life. When you first discussed Guelphs and investing love into the world, I didn't quite understand what you meant. Then, as the semester went on and we began to do the cards, flower gifts, etc- applied sociology, it became clear to me. When I made those priceless gifts for people and passedthem out, I was quite surprised to get pleasant responses from people. Who knew that by dressing up important issues being given to people, instead of the traditional flyers, that they might actually take a look at them- maybe even read & understand them?

It felt good to think that by my efforts in making the cards and boxes I quite possibly have helped out or invested much needed love in our world. Personally, I've found myself thinking about what I should or shouldn't do in relation to your concept of investing love into the world and its actually impacted the way I do or don't do or say certain things. The best part is that it really does make a difference. This idea of investing love into the world and guelphs- which can be in any form, is quite refreshingand gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow.

The kids I mentor to at my church in our parish youth group really enjoyed the valentine guelph cards especially. More often than not, we teach children to stay within the lines, follow directions, and basically become old and rigid. We need to enliven the children of tomorrow and stimulate their minds with activities that really mean something. I've enjoyed your teaching and the concepts you've taught.

At first, I was a little scared as to your grading process, but I trust in your fairness and love for teaching. Seeing you go through all this pain and sickness and still teaching us "hard-headed" kids as we're called, you are awesome. If anything, I know I've become a better person because of you.

Another interesting concept I really enjoyed learning and have actually applied is that of illocutionary discourse. You make a really good point that many people are so stuck on their opinion and swaying others to think what they think that they're not hearing anyone else but themselves. The interesting thing is that we actually saw this concept in play during one of our class sessions and periodically on transform_dom discussions. They were basically saying the same thing, making the same argument but because they didn't allow themselves to hear what anyone else had to say they failed to realize the obvious and turned what was nothing into something.

After seeing this, it dawned on me that this might be exactly why my mother and I can never see eye to eye. Now, when she's talking to me I think about illocutionary discourse and realize what we've both been doing - that is, not listening to what the other had to say and assume what we're saying is ultimately right. Basically, we have the notion that only one of us can be right and therefore we must prove the other to be wrong. What we should be doing instead is listening to what is being said and "agree to disagree"- so to speak.

Essentially, we need to acknowledge what the other had to say and just leave it at that. Take what we want and leave what we don't want. As you know, it really is easier said than done, but at least now I know.

This semester I've left no child behind by understanding and listening to the kids I teach at an elementary school as well as the kids I help at my church. The reward is not so much in the fact that I've done my part, but mainly in the fact that they appreciate what I do for them.

Illocutionary discourse used in general discourse pertains to everything. Many times adults feel that because they've been around longer they have the right to walk on those younger than them. Illocutionary discourse knows no color, age, gender, etc. It calls on us to be understanding and fair with one another. No matter what the issue or who you're speaking with, you must respect one another and be understanding of theother's view, whether you agree with them or not.

This class has helped me become a better person as well as a better educator. Children are delicate and innocent. They aren't always going to understand or know what to do next. We need to be patient and accommodating. Though it's easier to brush them off and/or punish them, it's not always the right thing to do. We need to love our children so that they will know how to love. If we don't show them love, how will they know what it is let alone be able to express it to one another.

Your course has been an amazing journey. There really should be more teachers like you in this world. What really is great is the transparency of your teaching and grading methods. If a student doesn't quite get a concept the first time, you give them the opportunity and materials/references necessary to learn further and get back to you once they've mastered the concept. This is a great way of teaching because this way you know that your students are actually remembering what is being taught and not just memorizing them and spitting them back out on traditional exams or guessing on multiple choice scantrons.

Thank you again for a wonderfully fun-filled semester. Though I've taken you before, you never fail to surprise me. I hope that when I'm your age I won't slow down either. The dedication and commitment you and Pat put in your teachings as well as your students is amazing. I've really enjoyed your class, and I wish you and Pat the very best.

Grace

P.S. Please let me know if there's anything else I need to do to get my grade (transparent learning at its best, You're a great teacher, Jeanne). Thank you!

Discussion Questions

  1. Does Graces' explanation of her learning give you a clue as to why we are making flowers and froggies?

    Consider what she says about how these little flower gifts or froggies or whatever enable us to share information in the community.

  2. Does Graces' explanation of her learning tell you how illocutionary discourse applies in everyday life?

    Consider the example she gives of talks with her mother.

  3. Would all of you have listed the same things learned, or did each of you take from the course what fit your situatedness?

  4. How would a standardized test have distorted what I would learn of your learning?

    Consider that you would have been constrained to color within the lines or tell me about what you figured I expected. Do you know someone who learned different things in this course?

  5. Can I still give you a grade? Did Grace answer that question?

    Consider her explanation of transparent grading.

References:

  • Georgetown University Self Study Document Chapter 2: Students
    "Residential Life and Conduct

    Programs have been instituted to more effectively bridge the learning environments of classroom and residence halls. The roster of informal faculty talks in the residence halls grows each semester. Heightened awareness of the importance of community relations, given the high number of students living off campus, has led to a surge of student activism within the community. GU students currently hold elected positions in the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and many serve on the Alliance for Local Living (ALL), a group dedicated to improving relations among the local community.

    "Living & Learning Environment

    Over the last ten years, Georgetown has made tremendous efforts in upgrading technological capabilities in the residence halls. All residence halls are now fully wired for data. Four residence halls have also been renovated, with special emphasis on improving the living and common space for students. Newly renovated community rooms within the halls now provide more study space so that students have more options within the Residence Halls for studying and for gatherings. In spite of these improvements, there is still a need for additional space for studying, community-wide gatherings, and campus organizations. Further, there is a pressing need for more computer labs and 24-hour access to them. The new Southwest Quadrangle will house 780 students, primarily sophomores. More importantly, it will also include three faculty and three Chaplain-in-Residence apartments in an effort to promote continued interaction between students and faculty/staff outside of the classroom.

    From University Mission Statement.Scroll down about an inch.Georgetown.



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