This winter, I am teaching a class on “Teaching in the Community College.” In preparation for this course, I am collecting articles on education from the last couple years that have been influential in the discourse among teachers about what teaching is and the sorts of struggles that teachers are experiencing presently.
I recently re-wrote the description for the course to focus on the problems we’ll be exploring:
“Students who attend community colleges are a diverse population by every measure, including age, socio-economic background, academic preparedness, long-term goals, and more. As community college educators, we often need to make choices that seem to either tailor to some students’ needs while dismissing others, or to pursue all students’ goals in equal measure at the expense of a more mediocre education for all. Is our goal to have the same expectations of our students as would be expected at a more selective four-year school? Or, should we “meet the students where they are” in the pursuit of our students’ growth, no matter where they may be? When teaching underserved students, do we have a moral responsibility to address social inequities, or should the professor avoid politically divisive subjects? To what extent are any of these questions false dichotomies? In this course, we will explore these problems, learn about the community college and its students, and how to be an effective educator in such an environment. Readings will include classical pedagogical theory texts, such as Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Dewey’s Democracy and Education, as well as recent empirically-driven arguments, such as Make it Stick and What the Best College Teachers Do, and contemporary articles from publications like “Inside Higher Ed” and “The Chronicle of Higher Education.””
This post will be one in progress as I add new articles to consider for inclusion in the course.
If you are reading this and have articles you think would be good for the course or interesting to read, please share them in the comments.
Taking a cue from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, I’ll number principal articles with a cardinal number, and articles that respond to principal articles with a decimal of that cardinal number.
1. “I am your professor, not your teacher.”
I disagree with the central message of this article, but I am sure it speaks to how many professors think. From the article:
“First, I am your professor, not your teacher. There is a difference. Up to now your instruction has been in the hands of teachers, and a teacher’s job is to make sure that you learn. Teachers are evaluated on the basis of learning outcomes, generally as measured by standardized tests. If you don’t learn, then your teacher is blamed. However, things are very different for a university professor. It is no part of my job to make you learn. At university, learning is your job — and yours alone. My job is to lead you to the fountain of knowledge. Whether you drink deeply or only gargle is entirely up to you.”
2. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me.” http://www.vox.com/2015/6/3/8706323/college-professor-afraid
2.1 “I’m a Professor. My colleagues who let their students dictate what they teach are cowards.”
“I don’t have the luxury of simply changing my syllabus to make my students more comfortable. You see, I’m also black and a woman.”
2.2 “I was a liberal adjunct professor. My liberal students didn’t scare me at all.”
3. “How a School’s Attendance Number Hides Big Problems.” This article covers chronic absence rates among students. It is geared toward k-12, but this has been a serious problem in my classroom too. The article defines chronic absence as missing more than 10% of classes. I generally teach 30-32 sessions per class, depending on holidays, so chronic absence would be anyone missing more than 3 classes. Right now, about half of one of my classes has missed more than 3 classes. Many have missed quite a few more.
4. Homelessness among Community College Students: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/12/07/study-find-homelessness-and-food-insecurity-among-community-college-students?utm_content=buffer93314&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=IHEbuffer
5. Quality over Quantity in Assignments: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/12/04/writing-study-finds-quality-assignment-and-instruction-not-quantity-matters