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)?


Jennefer said...

Interesting thought.... for Yoga, I am with you. I don't care for partner work, I don't want people touching me/forced intimacy. I like to chat with others before or after if it feels natural but I'm ok if that does not happen.
For other subjects when I was in school, I think that social interaction can greatly help with learning. It can really help to work with someone else who is learning along with you so you have someone to work through the ideas out loud with. It helps you process the subject more thoroughly I think.


Rebecca said...

I have wavered on this so much. I have 13 posts on my blog dedicated to community, and it permeates my thoughts and actions both on and off the mat. I used to hate partner work in yoga classes, and now I love it . . . when I am in the mood. I have found healing power from teaching yoga just by being in the space, and I have struggled with the fact that lawyers are so anti-group work and how that influences the profession. I do not think there is a right answer to any of this, as you say. There are so many ways to be and exist in the world and in community. I can say that the more immediate the need, the quicker a community is formed. I was in Christchurch for the earthquake and left hugging people I had met only hours before and would never see again. In that moment, we needed community, but now that I am out of there, I am liking some alone time to think and consider all that I have experienced. The same is true on the mat, as a student and as a teacher. Thanks for this discussion. It is desperately needed.

Jenn said...

I think, in general in life, I'm a bit of a loner. school I always learned best when a class involved a lot of discussion, though I hated group work...and mostly still do.

I love the energy of a yoga class (from the view point of a student or a teacher)...or any group activity class for that matter. Which, may be why I've taught group ex and yoga for so long. Yet at the same time when it comes to my own practice or workout, I will almost always choose to go it alone. I love the community that's growing at my small studio...yet if I'm in an unfamiliar group, I tend to keep to myself. And after our move this summer to a new town have realized I'm completely OK being ME on my own.

So I guess for me it's not an easy answer either...but definitely an interesting topic to consider.

sada said...

Alone in class room only benefited for you if you want to concentrate your self but dear friend i want to say that why you do this in class room please go in silent place or you separate room in home..

Heather said...

That photo really evokes the 'aloneness' feeling, great choice. It kind of gives me the chills.

Personally, I like to learn on my own.. especially with yoga. I agree with Jennefer, my practice is my own.