I began to question my own values and assumptions:
* was it necessarily A Good Thing to offer more choices, more autonomy?
* what if my cultural values and those of my students were different, like Lisa Delpit describes? If that were true here, too, then I might not be doing them the favour I thought I was;
* what if all this, the “freedom, autonomy, choice, fun, reflection” schtick, were a monumental waste of time? Actually making learning more difficult for them, and less likely?
For a while, discouraged by student response including written feedback that suggested many were confused about what they were supposed to do, at a loss when faced with choices, and not impressed with the general lack of direction, I went “back” to direct instruction:
* much more lock-step work;
* more lecturing with students taking notes;
* a final exam.
Students (mostly) did the work, although attendance was no better (or worse) than before. However, enthusiasm, real learning, curiosity, initiative, signs that people were joining dots on their own, coming to conclusions of their own, seeing patterns in the language that they had not seen before and that no-one had pointed out to them – none of these made their appearance.
And I wasn’t having much fun, either.
So, all in all, not a very satisfying semester, although it did seem more in line with what students (and other faculty staff) expected.