It seems that, after reading through everyone’s blog posts and reflecting on the class discussion and my notes, many people were very interested in Dobrin’s introduction and his points about the “practicum” class. Of course, this won’t come as much of a surprise, because many people in the class are TA’s who are going through such an endeavor and its related course right now. As Nick points out in his blog, “composition courses cannot just be about how to teach writing. The history of such practices must be covered.” A practicum course that fails to cover instruction or content as equally as the other does seem like it is doing its students/professionals a disservice; because there is no guarantee that any students in such a class would have previous classroom experience, ignoring pedagogy and an approach to effectively teaching writing would be to ignore nearly half of the discipline and the endeavor.
Because my section covered the first chapter in Ellsworth’s book, I did my best to pay particular attention to the class discussion that was spurred from a couple of important quotes from the chapter. Her points about the embodied process of learning aim to help both teachers visualize the “process” of learning from a different vantage point. While it is true that students aim to earn a good grade, there is something that undeniably happens–physically, as well as emotionally and mentally–to a student when he or she actually learns something (or even just simply engages in the “process” of learning). Ellsworth takes up major issue with pedagogical approaches that do not address such a reality.
It was interesting to hear from many people in class who made note of Ellsworth points about the relatedness of student experience and how it can begin to create a dialogue that could not exist elsewhere. Again, many made note of the fact that it is crucial to allow students to bring their experiences with them to the classroom, and to even let students relate their experiences to the material; all student understanding of different material will surely be influenced–in one way or another–by their experiences and any previous encounters with a subject. Finally–for someone who doesn’t teach–it was intriguing to hear many people note how students are often able to relate their understanding of material to another student’s points or views because of shared experiences.