Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Fruitful Omission: Forgetting a Book and Learning a Lesson

As I opened my briefcase before teaching my evening Ethics 1030 course at Metro State College of Denver, I noticed that I had forgotten the textbook. However, I did have my notes and had read the entries for that evening (Kant and Richard Taylor) many times.

However, I could not point students to specific pages or read from the text. That was, I thought, a drawback of my forgetfulness. Yet, it ended up making for a more interactive and textually-oriented class because I had to ask the students to read pertinent passages aloud so we could analyze them. This gave them more ownership of the texts and got them more involved a deeper level.

Sometimes, teachers can teach too much--that is, do too much of the work for the students. But by not having my text, I was forced to depend on student involvement more than usual. All teaching involves some trust in and reliance upon students (as Parker Palmer points out), but my absent-mindedness deepened this need and actually enhanced the classroom environment.

I'm not planning on leaving the text behind next time, but I will encourage students to supply more of the textual involvement for themselves.

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