As I get older and closer to having to get a steady job, the streams of people asking me what I’m going to do with my prospective philosophy degree grow more quickly than mold. Inevitably, nearly everyone in those herds is going to ask me if I want to teach. I’ll say, “Sure, it’s a solid option.” But, as many of you might know, I’m not much one for school. It’s not that I think it’s unimportant; I happen to find it rather imperative to avoid being a moron. Over the past few years, though, I have found that school just isn’t my forte.
Education is an important topic among politicians and social reformists. While huge changes could be made to the education system as a whole, modifications can be made on a smaller scale that would make going to school better for eccentrics like me.
Attendance is one of the most dreaded parts of school, especially if a class is at 8:00 in the morning. If I was a professor my attendance policy wouldn’t exist. If, by some miracle, a student could pull together the information necessary and end up passing my class while only attending on test days or to turn in assignments, more power to them! That shows resourcefulness, a real life skill. However, I probably wouldn’t like that person as a person very much.
I find it is important to establish a relaxed and welcoming classroom environment. No one is going to be motivated to learn (except maybe through scare tactics) by an unfriendly professor. Classroom enthusiasm, engagement and discourse are things that can make students a lot more attentive in class. By immersing the students in the material, face to face, they have no choice but to respond or be embarrassed. Going off on anecdotal tangents here and there doesn’t hurt either. Not only do they make material more relatable, but they assure students that the professor is not an intellectual robot, which is the shockingly frequent truth. Learning can be fun and exciting, and if the professor isn’t excited about his or her chosen career path, how can we expect students to be?
In my classroom, many games would be played, and many movies would be watched. Occasionally, class would be cancelled, and there would be class adventures.
Evaluating students is multifaceted and perhaps the most important part of the scholastic system. I might be tempted to do away with grades; ironically, it seems that when grades become part of the picture, the learning experience is degraded along with students’ motivation being diminished.
Nevertheless, there should be some way of analyzing students’ work and progress in a class. First, homework would be separated into three different parts: reading, take-home quizzes, and fun. Every reading would be in the public domain. That way, students wouldn’t have to blow money on books. Each assigned reading, once printed out, should be no thicker than what can be stapled by a cheap, pocket-sized stapler. Giving students too much to read at once only overwhelms them or causes them to skimp on detail in an effort to complete the whole reading. Take-home quizzes will ensure that students do at least some of the reading. Having small grades throughout the semester will give students the opportunity to recover from bad grades. Fun will be by far the most important part of homework. But, this fun must be quality fun, like exercise, exploring, physical or mental games. Drinking doesn’t count. A student who spends too much time on work is probably only becoming miserable. Surely, they deserve no reward.
Participation is a tad bit more gray than other aspects of scholasticism. Some people do really well at interacting with others, while others are timid and unsure. A comprehensive evaluation of a student, comparing concrete evaluations with interaction in or out of the classroom would be taken. Difficult, but necessary. If a student falls asleep in class, I will allow them to sleep; there is no need to let class take precedence over one of the most fundamental parts of health.
Tests will be challenging, but open notes and with access to all the readings of the class will be allowed. Seldom in the real world will one be forced to do a project without access to all necessary resources. However, the tests will be so challenging that students must actually understand the material and be well versed in it to produce a satisfying answer.
The underlying principles I feel should be be at the foundation of education are inclusiveness, comprehensive evaluation, practicality and enjoyment. Perhaps my scholastic troubles could turn me into a solid professor, if I survived another five plus years of education. I could also be completely off and my classroom would explode with mutinous outrage.