Every other week, the English department meets a large group (largest dept. in the school) to discuss courses, initiatives, school business, and overarching questions. Yesterday, we revisited a conversation about homework that's been going on school-wide for a few years. How do we use it? Why do students gain from it? Could we get by without it? And so on. And we ended up discussing what some of us perceived as a move towards a school culture that doesn't foster serious students, specifically in English. Physics and Math maybe a different story?
Many great questions came out of the discussion:
*Is there a difference between being good at something and being a student of something? Waterpolo was the analogy.
*How do we balance encouraging the skills of a good student with the necessary pace of the curriculum?
*Should we expect all student to have passion for English? For example, do we expect all student in orchestra to be serious musicians?
*Is being a serious student, a mastery of skills or an investment in content?
So I left the meeting thinking about these questions, and thinking about how I might present some ideas in a post here at WatsonCommon. Considering myself a serious student of several things, English, leadership, educational technology, surfing, mountaineering, racquetball, marathoning, I thought I'd take inventory of all the things I do as a serious student (maybe learner is a better term).
1. I keep a small notebook with me at all times to quickly jot down ideas, reflections, and observations. This is also where raw ideas are born. Often, what's written here is in the form of lists, pictures, webs.
2. I write in a personal journal, at least 10 minutes a day, for nobody but me.
3. I keep a professional blog and read blogs of people who do similar work, creating a network of creative collaborators. Before blogging, I documented all my work and organized it in binders and folders, ready to reference and share.
4. I try to build a professional library of thought-provoking reading. I think this too is encompassed by the read/write web.
I'm probably missing things. But these are the habits (I wouldn't call them skills) that I believe make me serious. Is this what we expect of students? Or is it something else? Something more?