I am a secondary education major. I go to classes where we are paying good money to be shown how to teach and interact with students. In theory, this is a much needed part of my college schooling. I was initially excited to finally be able to learn what to do with students and how to teach them.The issue I have and the reason I am writing is the scheduling of these classes.
All my classes this semester were offered in just one section, once a week, three hours, probably so that we can have hours during the day to go and observe. Three hour classes are my least favorite of all scheduled class slots, though I usually end up taking one a semester out of necessity. Taking all three hour classes has been a challenge that I would strongly urge anyone to stay away from, one which I would try at all costs to prevent from having to do again.
In these three hour classes we are given many articles and books to read, and papers to write, under the guise of having to make up time lost since we are in a three hour section of the course. Yet in all the classes I have taken which met more than once a week, we’ve always done less work, comparatively, than in any of the three hour classes I’ve taken concurrently or otherwise. Time, the professor insists, is being lost, but I beg to disagree.
I read so much for each class that all the information blends together. I have actually sat in a class for as long as twenty minutes thinking and writing about an article I’d read to support a discussion point, only to find that the article was assigned for my three hour section the next day. In that class the next afternoon, I struggle to keep the ideas from the previous night’s readings separate.
Worse, half of the readings we’ve been assigned have never even been used in class. There’s so much given that three hours is not enough to address all the things I’d stayed up until two doing the night before. What drives the entire class to read every article, then? The random choosing of perhaps one of the articles out of maybe six to be used for a graded assignment, of course.
As educators, we’re constantly taught that work should be judged on quality, not quantity. If I were to go to students in a classroom setting and assign endless work due for the next week, I’d be questioned by more than a few parents, to be sure. Assigning these things and then never using them for in class would be considered poor teaching on my part. Telling students to read them all because I would have them turn in a summary on just one reading would be considered a scare tactic we have been warned against.
Why, then, has so much changed for college? We are assumed to be the next generation of educators, the people who will assign things to your children, and we are being made to participate in the very tactics we would be disciplined for using ourselves. We reach college and all reason as to how we’re taught tends to be thrown out the window; I am burried under a pile of reading without ever feeling like it actually teaches me anything or ads anything to my educational experience.
Perhaps we’re being taught what not to do by example. But I, personally, think that this is one example I’m paying entirely too much for.
I’m choosing to keep my name off of this article because my one professor keeps chiding the class for complaining. When we say nothing in protest, she says that we are not vocal enough in our classroom experience and participation. When we do ask the purpose of certain assignments, she does a complete turn around, and says that we need to get used to reading many things. We signed up for this, she reminds us. I’d like to let her know that I didn’t sign up for this at all. This was not my choice.
Anonymous is a student at West Chester University. She wishes that her identity be concealed for privacy reasons.