Posted by mouthyb | Posted in civil rights , democratic classroom , gender , teaching | Posted on 10:22 AM
This last Friday was also the last day of teaching my course this semester. I invited a colleague to attend; he teaches Sociology 101, and has spent the entire semester trying to convince 250 students, with poor results, that there actually are problems in society which cannot be attributed to just the poor. I wanted him to see the other end of the process.
The classroom, for the most part, was full of juniors and seniors. I went over the final, and then asked them what they had learned.
They answered that they had learned to listen to others. They had learned to appreciate Civil Rights history. They had learned that privilege exists and that it effects everyone. They learned that teaching doesn't have to destroy the love of learning. They learned that their opinions were important. They learned that they could, themselves, posit solutions to problems. They learned to pay attention to divisions in class, race and gender in a personal fashion, instead of as abstract concepts.
They said they learned to think in my class.
I told my students about my colleague, about teaching 101 classes with 250 students and wondering if any of those 250 students were affected by the content of the course. And then I turned to them and said, "I have been proud of you, all semester. I just wanted to show off how awesome you've been."
As I concluded class, they came and shook my hand. They thanked me for the semester and I thanked them, as well.
My colleague and I walked back to our department. He said, "I've never seen students react like that to a teacher."
I said, "See what the work you've been doing in 101 sets them up for."
I still haven't taken two finals, and despite having to report two of my teachers, I count this semester as a win.