Bean (a creative title)

Before I go on my rant, I want to make it clear that I am very glad that I am a part of this digital humanities seminar, and that it is proving to be a learning experience in all sorts of ways. However, that said, I’m finding myself irritable this week after doing the reading, and not for the usual reasons. I’m irritable because I actually really liked it.

So why, you might be wondering, would that make me irritable? Am I such a contrary person that liking something would make me annoyed?

Sort of. Reading this chapter by Bean (I have resisted making Mr. Bean jokes) about formal writing assignments had a lot of food for thought. It brought up all sorts of possibilities – many which are of no use to me – but a few which are. What was so fantastic, was an actual conversation about teaching techniques. Not something any of us outside of education are taught.

This, this type of content, is what I hope to see at every faculty development day. Presentations for different approaches to generating learning outcomes. This is why I keep grousing about having a faculty lounge. Because it is so rare for faculty to have a chance to sit down and just talk about what approaches work for them, to brainstorm ideas, to share successes and failures, to learn from each other.

It’s great that we have the digital humanities seminar. Now I’d like a pedagogy seminar. Every few years. For all faculty that want to participate. This should be a part of the grand revolution in academia. Instead of obsessing over assessment and cookie cutter learning outcomes we should be getting together to discuss the best way to get students thinking critically about content.

Even though this book is clearly dated – Pabst has made a resounding come back thanks to the hipster culture – it provides much food for thought. For me the biggest questions now are how I frame the assignment for my Sociology of Aging course. Do I make a digital component (e.g. a photoshopped image, a home video, or an audio recording) mandatory? Do I have multiple stages starting with a two to three paragraph statement of purpose? How will peer feedback work, and will they get graded on the quality of feedback they give their classmates?

I think I may have to buy this book, or hopefully a more current version of it. And maybe I can turn it into some powerpoints and offer that as a workshop during our faculty development days, because I have a lot of colleagues who could either use the coherency of this or could benefit from a discussion about this content.

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