William is an Assistant Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in the Department of Business Administration and Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is fascinated by research around how individuals construct and create their social realities, intrigued with the powers of creativity and innovation, and an avid proponent of outstanding service experiences. When not teaching, writing, or researching, he tries to spend time with his family and occasionally paint. He is currently completing his PhD in Management at Saint Mary’s University.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Walking the walk in the first week back
There is a method to my madness. I’ve encountered the ‘we don’t read the textbook’ groups; maybe it’s a generational thing, but who has time for a new research project right now. Many of my students are buying the textbooks, but not reading them. Boring, they say. But sometimes that’s just how the presentation of information is the first time.
At first, I pondered about the demise of attention spans in this, the YouTube generation. (I don’t hate me YouTube; I spend more time than I should watching stuff there.) Then, I thought about the ramifications of the whole group of parents/teachers who focused on self-esteem over real accomplishments. This might be the outcome of that failed esteem love fest; Johnny won’t read the textbook because is makes him feel confused and sad with all the new information he has to work to understand.
The question I was faced with is how to address this, not accept it. Do I rant about it? Perhaps waggle my finger and shout “thou shalt read the text!” Fear is an effective motivator? Then I had a different thought.
My students struggle with reading, with writing and math. (Do not get me going on the public education system teaching actual skills.) Perhaps it’s just the case that no one ever taught them how to independently approach the material in a textbook.
So, for the next few weeks, if not the whole semester, I will read everything that I assign to my students, approaching it from their point of view. I’m highlighting key items and definitions right in my text, making notes in the margins, and summarizing the chapters in my own words and with my own examples. On paper. With a pen.
I’m showing them what I’m doing as well. I pass around my notes so they can see. We spend 5 minutes talking about the structure of the chapter, how to deconstruct it, and what the author is actually trying to focus your attention on. I’m sharing my stories of what I think the material is saying to me. I want them to start sharing their notes, their stories of engaging with the textbook, even where they thought it was dry or thick. I’ll tell you how this ends up, success or a failed experiment, down the road.
Right now, I would love to hear your thoughts on getting students engaged in the reading process, whether textbooks or other resources? Let me know. But, I have to run now; a few more pages call out to me before tomorrow’s class.