Thursday, March 6, 2014

"What Are You Trying To Prove?"

In English 12 today (section 2B), we were working on finishing a paper on Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. The students had been working on this paper for quite some time. I'd given them feedback on their intro paragraphs and their drafts, and then they were to finish revising the paper by the end of class today. As the students were working and I was walking around, answering questions and giving help, I noticed that AJ was really going above and beyond the call of duty in helping Tony P. AJ was saying the kinds of things that a teacher would say, making suggestions and asking clarifying questions, explaining the function of each component of the paper. Together, the two students took the paper apart and put it back together again. 

Pretty quickly, I realized that they didn't need any help from me. At least in this instance, I was irrelevant. --That's what all teachers should strive to become, I suppose. Our students should learn to do for themselves what we do for them. As the teaching profession moves away from the "sage on the stage" model towards the "guide on the side" model, I hope that all our students will learn to help each other in this way, not by giving each other answers, or doing each other's work, but by guiding each other towards a greater understanding of what it means to write papers, for instance, or organize their ideas. 

"What are you trying to prove?" AJ asked.
"I…I don't know," said Tony.  
"Look at your thesis," said AJ.  


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