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Student Mental Initiative

March 8, 2010

Students are halfway decent at spitting back what I tell them. But they show no initiative when it comes to putting 2 and 2 together.

If I explained how Marxist critiques of religious ideology work, and then summarized 19th and 20th century prosperity gospels, they could summarize each. But if I asked them to think about what a Marxist might say about prosperity gospels, I would probably just get summaries of each.

Of course, they could summarize what a Marxist might say about a prosperity gospel, but only if I went ahead and explained that explicitly.

This is what our public school system as trained students to do: regurgitate.

Hear that? That’s the sound of frustration.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Classical Liberal permalink
    March 8, 2010 8:41 pm

    This is why I’m glad I had a comprehensive liberal arts education – I was trained to regurgitate in public school, but thanks to a handful of good professors I’ve been cured – or rather, broadened and deepened.
    Fight the good fight, Marx. Some of them will get it.

  2. designprof permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:34 pm

    I have noticed this over the last five years of teaching. What ever happened to abstract thinking and analysis? On a side note, my students have a significant lack of knowledge in so many areas that they struggle to make connections between disciplines (example – how to discuss the correlations between art and politics from a certain era). I am thankful for my liberal arts college education, but I really fear for the future when the students who can only regurgitate will be the educators. My state is looking to get rid of some standardized exams and I applaud it. Maybe it will free educators from teaching regurgitation.

  3. Beelzebub permalink
    March 9, 2010 12:56 am

    Really? How do you know it’s not just that they have some anxiety about saying something possibly stupid in class? There’s a lot less risk in summarizing than in synthesizing.

  4. March 9, 2010 8:19 am

    They probably are trying to predict what you want. You won’t believe the amount of times people tell me (students) that if I want to get good marks I need to tell the teachers their own opinions back at them.
    Pfft. I would rather be interesting than get good marks…

  5. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    March 9, 2010 9:07 am

    They can’t be trying to give me what I want, because I make it clear that I want something other than summary.

  6. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    March 9, 2010 9:07 am

    Painfully clear, even …

  7. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    March 9, 2010 9:10 am

    Beelzebul, I would expect that, except that their papers don’t line up with their boldness in class. In many of my classes I have people definitely willing to say dumb things in front of others. In addition, there’s isn’t that much risk: I walk them right up to the point I want them to see. That is, their “analysis” is 1% away from being regurgitation itself.

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