9 Things I Learned In School (Summer 2013)

I'm five-eights of the way through my adult-ed certification process with UVic.  Here, in no particular order, are some of my learnings.

1.  None of the fun kids take the same courses as me.  Everyone is very earnest.  I haven't laughed even once.

2.  Although I really didn't care about marks when I started, I now do.  I consider 96 to 98% to be an acceptable range.  Higher is nicer.  Modestly, I set my sights on 95%.  I'll take 90% as a pass.  Below that, I angrily scratch the numbers out with a thick crayola marker, black.

3.  I'm happier with a steady pull - one light assignment per week - than a heavier assignment at two or three week intervals.  I can only imagine what a year long course ending with a one-shot GED test feels like.

4.  There is a glaring flaw in the implied philosophy of the courses: namely, that it is possible and appropriate for us as educators to determine what our students will learn, as well as the ways and means they will do this learning, long before we meet them.  It's not just didactic, it's dictatorial.  In the Roman sense.  No student-centered, individualized curriculum here.  I'd heard about this sort of thing, of course.  When I took my first job with a literacy organization?  I remember my manager gently explaining that "top down teaching" would be cause for immediate termination.

5.  School is an ineffective learning environment for me.  After five 12-week courses, I only remember a tiny bit about one (some terms used in assessment) and the content of three of the 12 or 14 short papers I wrote.

6.  I don't like learning from the YouTube videos they show us.  It's not YouTube's fault.  I learn crazy big stuff about science and computers and playing top 40 guitar licks from YouTube.  But with these guys, it feels like I can read faster than people talk.  It takes forever.  So, I skip to the end. Then it doesn't make sense.

7.  I'm a liberal, not a progressive.  Pretty much a classical liberal.  I get along best with the angry old Marxist and a couple of family-friendly humanists.  But the progressives make me bite my tongue.

8.  Hardly anyone in the adult education field knows that, philosophically, the term "critical" means "critical of ideas that are self-serving, serve the interests of the ruling class, or both."  They seem to think it means "seeing things in new ways" (which, itself, would be a pleasant change, but I digress).

9.  As in the past, the modern university can function without ever touching upon, or being touched by, the world around it.  Nothing we've done or said in class has been said or done differently because of climate change, government spying scandals, illegal military ventures, election fraud, the dismantling of the social safety net, stagnate low employment or Charter contraventions by local and national police forces.  It's all been pleasantly Platonic and imaginary.  Well... a few people complained about their employers.  And the Marxist talks about the Capitalists, but nobody pays any attention to him.

Course Six coming soon.

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