I’m going to try and mix attending the CIDER conference this past week with the blog topic for this week. They might mix like oil and water, but like one of the presenters said, “We use prompts to focus discussion; but, if someone wants to speak what is on their mind, they will have no problem ignoring the prompt to do so.”
I was happy to see the readings were mentioning Parker Palmer. As part of another class, we read Palmer’s The Courage to Teach. He talks about being an authentic teacher and showing your passion for the subject. After all, it is the subject that we are teaching that we are truly passionate about. It is how we express that passion to our students that matters. Not everyone can be that super energetic and charismatic in front of a class. It is important to find a teaching style that maximizes how one expresses that passion. If you can carry the attention of a class through a lecture, have at it. If you’re more of a reserved person, then finding a student centered style of teaching is perfect. It creates less of a focus on you, and more of one the subject. When looking for a new pedagogy to use, it is easy to get caught up in how cool they are.
This past week I was at the CIDER and there were a lot of really cool pedagogies presented there. The most engaging one that I experienced was reacting to the past. It is a role playing game using specific events in the past. You are given character sheets with information on your position and objectives for you to be successful. There are reading associated with event that help to explain the context of the event and the significance it had. You’re going to have to trust me it was fun trying to get people to believe that cholera was being spread through the water in 19th century London, and that it wasn’t literally falling from the sky. It was easy to want to do everything presented, just for the sake of being cool. That’s where I had to stop myself and ask, “Is this appropriate for this class?” I am all in on gamification, but the reality is that it isn’t a fit for the class I teach. What makes it even harder is knowing that I could make my own version of a game that would work for what I need. However, that takes time, and time not dedicated to my research is precious. I get the trap that is set by wanting to take the easy way out and just give students the information to have them spit it back.