Tag Archives: Teaching

Walters Museum, and student evaluations

Last summer I visited this museum and received its lovely magazine. Sticking with me in particular are the ceramics of Roberto Lugo and John Singer Sargent’s watercolor The Alhambra Vase. In the store, a bronze reproduction of a Chinese owl figurine, eight inches high.

∞∞∞∞∞∞

How to get high evaluations? Old and new suggestions include never changing the syllabus, not allowing student input or collaboration on course structure, just telling them how things are going to be and sticking to it, not allowing screens in class, saying the evaluations are for tenure and promotion, pointing out evidence of race/gender bias in the evaluation process, and having students write a metacognitive essay before evaluating the course.

Axé.

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On close reading

Close reading shapes how I teach in decisive ways. In order to help students find topics about which to write, I let them read texts closely. Not only do I teach the critical thinking skills discussed above, all of which rely on close reading, but students practise these skills regularly. Before most class meetings, students read at least one new text. I guide their reading in the form of worksheets uploaded to the IVLE workbin two to three days before class. Each sheet provides a clear outline of the aims and objectives for the class concerned, and situates the class in terms of the module while providing context to the readings for the day. The sheet further poses questions concerning the reading and requires students to pose their own questions on it. Thus students are constantly required to engage closely with the texts they read and justify their reading of the texts. This forms the basis of all class meetings, which in turn are linked to their paper assignments. Close reading of sources (whether texts or real-world phenomena being studied) is thus fundamental to my teaching. It serves not only to equip students with the ability to observe closely and ask critical questions, but to produce well-crafted and persuasively argued essays. Far from fetishising close reading, this is merely an acknowledgement of its centrality in the process of independent inquiry.

Here is the entire article. I am not always up on everything and it has come to my attention that close reading went out of fashion as “elitist” and is now coming back in. This is how I should teach the introduction to literature, but I might also want to have creative projects. Perhaps ONE creative project. I used to not believe in these, for various reasons I am sure you can guess at (ask if you are not sure), but I am starting to wonder whether they might not be a good idea.

Axé.

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Filed under Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?