May 24th, 2011
ago, when I was teaching at Carnegie Mellon, I was working with my writing
students to help them understand their writing process more fully (or at
all). At first, they had no idea what I meant and were not aware that
they HAD a writing process. As we worked over a week in discussion and
then a paper about the issue, the students in my course almost universally
decided that their writing process was to procrastinate until the last minute
and then the fear of missing the deadline would drive them to write. At
the time I found it mildly interesting but mostly discouraging.
Now that I look back on that experience, I now wonder if they had actually
found their best antidote to the bleak work that writing to a teacher really
is. The assignment of writing an essay to the teacher could not motivate
them at all, but the adrenaline of nearly missing the deadline could.
Their response, it could be argued, was a perfectly reasonable response to an
we as a community of practice would characterize our commitment to eportoflios,
most likely, as also a commitment to a focus on student *learning* as opposed
to the traditional focus on teaching. The word "pedagogy," however,
mean studying how teachers teach. It is a study of teaching. The
literal meaning is "to lead a child." In other words, pedagogy
carries baggage we may not be aware of: it's common use comes from the
culture of teaching -- and is evokes behaviorism in which students are objects
to be acted on.
Instead of "pedagogy," we should be talking about our theory of
learning. We should be talking about "designing for learning,"
or our "learning theory," and other ways to make it clear our work is
distinct from the teaching-centered practices that are still common.
Pedagogy envisions a passive student; eportfolios envision an active
student. Our words have great power. We must attend to them.