Everyday in class, there is some discussion. I think that’s a fair statement. We’re all English Ed majors. We all have at least 2 classes that participate in dialogical pedagogy. But why does it feel like such a waste of time so often? People are kind in class to other’s opinions, because they don’t want to be labeled as a mean person, and become the class leper.
But in all honesty, when we listen to these horrible statements and rants from other students, this movie clip runs in the back of our minds.
I feel like this has been a problem for most of us since even middle school. The greatest example is when you are supposed to peer review someone else’s essay. You find a couple little tiny errors and then say “But the rest looks awesome!” even though there is no topic sentence and it’s written in the tears of dying hippogryphs.
This social code we have to follow kills the reality of our assessment. We rely too much on the teacher or professor to give us an accurate review of our work, throwing out our peer’s thoughts as useless bologna (the meat, not the city).
So moving toward our future profession: how do we encourage students to critically review each other’s work? Is there a better strategy then just throwing them into small groups to swap and trade essays?
Part of me wants to believe it’s about establishing a really tight-knit community before you get to that stage. Making sure that student’s feel comfortable in your classroom environment and feel safe when it comes time for that review would make a lot of difference. Or perhaps students will continue to walk on egg shells when they try to tell each other their work isn’t up to par. Especially in middle school, the social pressure from your peers is tremendous. It’s hard as instructors to override it.
As for class discussions, even though many of my teachers have said that it’s the students’ responsibility to moderate them keep them going/equal, I still think that the teacher should have an active role in that process. Otherwise, the conversation will be monopolized, or will fizzle out completely. And no want either of those things to happen. My AP Lit teacher would start us off with a question, then sit back and observe the conversation. If he didn’t like where it was going (only a few were talking, the conversation was dying out, the conversation wasn’t academic worthy) he would tell us to rearrange the desks out of the circle and he would lecture instead. This was something none of us wanted, and we respected him as a teacher and didn’t want to displease him, so we always tried to do our best to have a good class discussion.
This is something I think should be utilized in “higher level” 6-college classrooms. No one wants to sit in silence, and no one wants to hear the same person talk over and over.
When That Student Who Always Talks Doesn’t Get Called On
With more equal chances for discussion for everyone, people would get to know each other and not worry about being critical on each other’s assignments.