09 November 2011

You want spoonfeeding? Sorry, no can do

I am really struggling to write here. When in the course of my jobs I write something that I feel is appropriate to post, I'll do so.

The following is a response to a student. I'll let you draw conclusions based on what I say (said).
You said "I understand that we are adults, but I am paying a hefty tuition for a professor to teach me." You will probably be sorely disappointed in this class if that is your expectation. I am a facilitator of learning and much of what you do and learn in this class will be a result of independent learning. As a teacher, I hope your other professors will do the same. Knowing the mission of professional studies as I do, that is the intent, although it doesn't always happen in actuality.

Education has changed significantly over the last 10 years. A major change has been that the impetus for learning has moved from the teacher to the student. This is true in MANY progressive universities and it's how I structured my classes in both the university and the high school. I've learned a lot of what I do from other, veteran professors here on campus, so I know you will run across these same strategies in other classes; some of those profs teach in this program.

That said, I recognize that the program is expensive. I just spent over $30k for a Master's. However, I didn't pay for a professor to teach me. I paid for convenience (1 night a week) and for a professor to know how to engage me in the learning process, whether through lecture or independent learning. My philosophy is that you get out of class what you put into it.

It is my job to bring all of my mental faculties to bear on the learning environment so that it is one that is conducive to students being engaged and learning However, it is your job to come prepared to class (which you clearly do) and do your best on each assignment and while you are participating in class. I say things like "You are college students and need to figure things that are not spelled out on your own" because that is what is expected of college graduates. You should be a critical thinker, a problem-solver, and an independent learner.

This week, I was asked to prepare an RFP for a vendor. Prior to that assignment, I had never heard of an RFP and didn't even know what the letters stood for. However, through a day of research and independent learning, I was able to learn not only what it was, but what was supposed to be included in one and I prepared a (very) rough draft. This was done much to the surprise of my boss. She didn't even expect that I would know what it was, no less be able to create one from scratch. I learned that skill through professors putting me into situations in which I had to think for myself. This is exactly one of the skills I am hoping to engage you in. Be sure to check the learning objectives again. No doubt you will see "critical thinking" listed.

This program is not about (at least it shouldn't be) "paying for a degree" or even "paying for a professor to teach you". It is about you engaging in the process of learning. Many students come to SNU thinking the professor should "spoon-feed" them the information, assign them an "A", and get them on to the next class. I refuse! I will point you in the right direction, facilitate learning to the best of my ability, award points where they are due, and PREPARE you for whatever challenge you meet next.

You guys know how these things go. Sometimes you've just got to get these things out of your head before you can move on.

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