Problems with "real learning"

OK, here’s the scene, picture it to yourself: the instructor has decided to try and spice things up a little by introducing some choices to students. Perhaps they can choose an activity, or choose between 2 or more texts or materials. The rationale for this is that somehow this helps “bring students on board” by making them part of decisions that affect them; it helps alleviate alienation or disenfranchisement. You get the idea. To make sure they understand, the instructor has prepared a simple verbal explanation (in the students’ native language of course! No way they’re going to understand this in ENGLISH, ha-ha, even though they are majoring in English), AND a typed handout. What thoughtfulness!

Problem: students are asleep. They’re not listening when the instructor explains the choices. They’re not reading the handout where this is explained, either. They are out to lunch. The instructor DOESN’T HAVE THEIR ATTENTION!

Back to the drawing board, Einstein.

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