Jan 30, 2019 01:24:03 @isaacnelson
"Let me read, let me speak, let me ask the questions"
My J-term is almost finished and I need to make some comments on what my class, Religion at the US-Mexico Border has revealed to me. In Oregon this past fall, I was treated with respect as a student who could think for himself. Teachers searched for answers and meaning right alongside us. I was often given the opportunity to guide my own education. It is frustrating then, to be back at a school where I am not given the freedom in class to which I am accustomed.
In this class, the teacher stands and lectures and shows movies and we listen and watch. She does try to have discussions sometimes, but it is hard to get anything out of us. She asks questions of us with answers already in mind, not looking for our thoughts, but her own. The classroom is set up so that all the desks are facing her at the front. I'm sure if you asked, she would say she respects us as students, but the rows of front-facing desks that rarely stray from their ranks contradict this. If she wanted us to grow and learn from each other, a circle of desks would be more appropriate. Instead she has chosen rows- the best tool for depositing information into our brains and later extracting it with questions to which she already knows the answers.
I am not opposed to a person teaching me something I do not know. I am opposed to being treated as if I am incapable of bringing my own contribution to the conversation, as if my mind cannot stretch past the confines of the professor's question. Let me read, let me speak, let me ask the questions, and I will show you what I am capable of.
Though I am dissatisfied with this class, I have learned a lot. Yes, I learned about religion at the border, but I also sharpened my distinction between good and bad education. This class gave me something to push up against and helped me define what lies on either side of a different kind of border. That is, actual respect between student and teacher, freedom to pursue my interests, and a circle instead of rows.