Thursday, May 10, 2007

Study of Teacher Error

The article Study of Teacher Error: Misreading Resistance in the Classroom presented some interesting insight as to how we as teachers handle the resistance to writing. It seems to me that Sara Biggs Chaney was setting Amber up to fail. By presenting counterpoints, Chaney was attempting to help Amber qualify her argument, but it is an argument Amber will never win with Chaney. While the assignment achieves most of what Chaney hopes, it only serves to frustrate Amber further. As discussed in class, Chaney could have done more that simply direct the student to Howard Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences. The opportunity was there to provide some constructive guidance. Spewing academic reasoning and dropping names of theorists whom mean nothing to a basic writing student likely made Amber’s point more valid in her mind.
I suspect that Amber’s act of plagiarism on the final paper was possibly an earnest effort to belong to the academic community of which she felt she could never belong. Not all students plagiarize because they are lazy; most feel that they do not possess the ability to write intelligently and desperately want to hand in a paper with academic merit, even if they did not earn it.
Chaney appears, to me, to take a sarcastic tone when stating that it was unfortunate that she could not stop assigning writing and do something of more interest to Amber. I know first hand that it is difficult to teach a subject that many students dislike, or even fear. It is always a nice feeling to teach something that students are enthusiastic about. It makes it easier on everyone involved. However, we as teachers must strive to help our students see the value in writing. Chances are, many will fail to see the value immediately, but will be thankful for what they have learned later down the road.