For one of my education classes I am required to read the assigned pages, then go to our class forum online, and post general thoughts about what I’ve read. Here is what I posted today:
The first chapter of the Beers reading really caught my attention. This woman was dreaming about her ideal classroom, one full of intelligent students who read all of the classics and only live to discuss literature. She dreamed about a stack of brilliant essays, and students who got upset when class was over. But that is all it was– a dream. This got me thinking about how often I wish for certain things in my future classroom. Yes, it would be wonderful to have nothing but the best students in my class, but if you have nothing but the best, there is little room to teach.
Having students that can’t read creates more of a challenge, but isn’t that what why we are being trained? Isn’t that why we go through so many education classes, and literature classes? Anyone (well, mostly anyone) could sit down with a senior in high school and discuss Gatsby. It takes a specially trained person to teach a senior how to read the story, and not only read, but understand what is happening. So maybe it isn’t our fault that a student has gone throughout high school not knowing how to read. Beers gave off the impression that because it wasn’t her fault to begin with, it wasn’t her responsibility to train the child. But by the end of the first chapter, Beers realized that she had an opportunity (if not obligation) to teach her students how to read, and I hope that I can recognize my students problems in time, and help them to not only become better students, but to become better people.
So then I began reading the next two chapters of the book, keeping what I’ve posted in mind. And it got me thinking of how I have actually hindered my very own brother’s learning. I thought to myself, “I will never be like this teacher, she is not helping her students, and I will TOTALLY do that.” And then I thought of all the times I wrote papers for my brother, or wrote large parts of his paper, passing off the last three pages for him to write. I just “got him started with the assignment” and let him work out the rest.
And this is NOT helping! I want to teach my students how to correctly understand and comprehend and interpret Shakespeare, and here I am writing a paper about Shakes for my brother. He may still not understand what is going on within the play, and that is my fault. How can I be a good teacher if I spoon-feed my students the answers! Maybe, instead of listening to my brother complain about writing the paper, I should have recognized the underlying message that he didn’t actually understand what was going on in the book. I wanted to help him get better grades in school, and while the thought was noble, the execution was wrong. I should have sat him down, and discussed the play and how it related to the topic of his paper/assignment.
I also am guilty of overly helping him with citations. Yes, I hate, hate, HATE citations at the end of papers. And they are very confusing; it would be unnatural for me not to consult three different reference books showing me how to do it. And yes, a lot of the time I give my brother a reference book and tell him to look it up, and that I will check it when he has finished. But once in a while, I do it for him, and if I do it for him, how is he going to learn?
I’m not saying my brother can’t read; but maybe he has trouble comprehending what he is reading. And there is nothing wrong with that (in terms of his mental ability). Many people just glaze over the text and hope to pick out a few important details and call it a day. But what kind of sister am I (not to mention future teacher) to let him remain this way, while I provide him an easy way out? I love my brother very, very much and I want him to succeed. But I must go about a different method to ensure that he does.