So one of the frustrations I’ve felt with my own practice with student Weblogs and the like is the veritable dearth of students who continue to blog after the class is over.
This got me thinking again about the “game of school”. I would put the question the other way around: why SHOULD students continue blogging after class? After all, as EVERYONE KNOWS, the whole POINT of school is to get credits and good scores, so why would anyone want to continue working on something after school, after hours? I’m not arguing against learning, I’m just trying to see it from students’ point of view.
About 6 months ago, I had a conversation with a student about the quizzes I give in class. I had made worksheets for a listening class. I had told the class, both in writing and orally, my basic beliefs about language learning: that it requires a lot of input, practice and study, in that order, and that we were going to listen to a variety of different materials in order to try to satisfy the first requirement. THe worksheets’ purpose was to give them something to focus on, to make the listening a more active, erm, activity. I didn’t say I was going to mark or grade or correct the worksheets, tho I did collect them. But this student told me how it appeared to the students: some students had dropped out of class because they were able to fill in less than half of the blanks on the worksheets and therefore assumed that they would fail the class. “Yes, I know you told us about the importance of input and all that, and that you weren’t concerned about scores, but there’s this image of school, isn’t there?” he said when I tried to point out that was never my intention. Worksheet = quiz = getting as many right as you can = pass/fail. Doesn’t matter what the teacher actually SAYS, or writes on the board. What matters is the image students have of school, classes, worksheets.
One of the first things I’m going to do when classes start in a few days, is give students a quiz, collect the papers in, get the big trashcan from out in the corridor and ceremoniously dump all their papers in it. If they don’t pay attention to what I SAY, maybe that will grab their attention.