Thursday, February 24, 2011
Alone/Together in the classroom
I've been thinking about classroom community. Do we learn better when we know who we are learning with? Is a solitary pursuit more focused? Is it better to feel a part of a group or to be an individual in a bunch of individuals?
I have it all ways this semester. In my Ed class, we spent a whole day learning each others' names and interests. In Bio we work in pairs, so I know the students to my left and right. In Calc we all sit facing forwards and just casually converse before class...if even. In my once-a-month yoga class I don't know anybody and just come and go with a few words to my teacher.
And it's all good. I hate a forced community--I'd just as soon keep to myself. However, when I know everyone's name and the class includes a lot of discussion, I do feel more invested in the group. Is one better than the other--I think it depends, on what the subject is, how you are learning it, what the desired outcome is (is that an expectation?).
As a teacher, I try to learn everyone's name as soon as possible. I don't call on people in yoga classes, but if I can murmur an instruction using the person's name, I think its effect is more immediate. And whether there is talking or not, I want people to feel like I am keeping track of them--whether for adjustment purposes, safety, or inclusion. What's the point of taking a yoga class from a teacher if s/he isn't aware of each student (we've discussed this before, teaching vs demonstrating, remember)?
For me, I like a mix of alone and together in my yoga. I like the energy of a room full of people and the post-class vibe of everyone calm, relaxed, and happy. I hate partner work and I don't want to touch other students (when I'm a student, myself). I'm not really interested in conversation. It's a completely different experience than practicing at home, but it is still very solitary.
Alone or together. Where do you stand (sit, invert, twist)?