Peat and Repeat

Brian picA couple years ago, the question “How are you changing your pedagogy?” kept arising. It began to sound like too many ricochets in a gunfight scene. Yes, Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and they do change. However, there are things that students hope will remain the same.

Many of us teach sequel courses. Often, a student will take an introductory course and then consider taking the same instructor for the next course in that discipline. Though the material will vary, even upgrade in technical knowledge required, the format and service may not significantly vary.humans-love-repetition

Anticipating a sequel course, a student may like the same room, the same basic syllabus components, and the same learning approaches. A cliché says, “Familiarity breeds contempt” – but not yet! With so much flux in the lives of nontraditional college students, a little continuation of class comfort zones can be welcome.

The other day, as my English 101 class was winding down and students were collecting gear and standing up to file out, a student asked me, “Do you offer the same helps in English 102?” I quickly replied, “Why yes, I do. 102 is the same format, just more MLA and different units.”

guidanceShe then asked, “But do you offer the same helps?” I got her drift. She wanted to know if I toss 102 students out into the wilderness to find all their own nuts and berries. I assured her, “Yes, I offer the same helps.”

She looked comforted and more confident. Since walking away from the exchange, I’ve felt warmer inside. I bet this student will offer me the same helps next time as well.




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