Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Showing Off

In ASE 2 today I had about half the classtime to lecture on prosody. This is a topic the students should have read about, but we're frankly pretty lax in making sure that they do their homework. So I went in with the understanding that this would be the first time most of them had heard of it.

I'd reviewed the material the night before and was pretty confident in my understanding of it; had also come up with a few explanations and examples that I thought were pretty good. We broke the class up into three groups, each group re-reading the section on a certain area of prosody (word stress, thought groups, linking & reduction) and then briefly presenting their findings to the rest of the class.

Each group had a pretty good handle on the material. But what I found was that I was eager to display my knowledge of it, and since I'd spent this time coming up with examples and explanations, I was more interested in giving my prize explanations than I was in eliciting information from them. I was more interested in showing off my knowledge of the subject than in making sure that the students understood it. If they got a good grasp of it, and came up with all the ideas on their own, there would be no place for the explanations that I'd worked so hard to produce.

The desire to show off is, I'm sure, rather natural. And it's great when a student figures something out and is willing to demonstrate that knowledge. But as a teacher my job is to make sure that the students understand-- not to show off my own understanding. It should be taken for granted that I have a good handle on the subject. I'm the teacher, after all. If they fail to make the right connections, and I fail to elicit valuabe information from them, then I have to fall back to presenting the material in my own words. But it should be a last resort.


Post a Comment

<< Home