Schenck’s Advice

I found this in the comments of an Insider Higher Ed article:

Try to create and to foster in the classroom a big, free, open, safe, secure space. Invite students to be honest and to write the truths of their own life experience as they have lived it and know it. Offer correction and criticism only privately in pencil on their printouts. Encourage student authors to permit distribution of copies of their papers in class and to read them aloud as classmates follow along; or to permit you, the teacher, to read them aloud. Read them well, the very best you can, and make them sound really good! In class discussion insist students abide by elementary rules of parliamentary order—never interrupt, raise a hand to be acknowledged, address the moderator only (never another speaker), be silent and attentive until acknowledged by the moderator, be reasonable. In class discuss issues, themes, ideas, language, viewpoints (not rhetoric, grammar, usage, or mechanics). Build confidence, always, and foster truth-telling, always. Insist on data entry; make students correct, edit, and resubmit. Help them express their thoughts and feelings but don’t contend with them. Let students decide what they want to say and do everything you can to help them say it so others understand. Praise courage, honesty, and truth. Ask why, why, why, why, why. Engage students intellectually, make them think, pull their thinking up, and everything else will come up along with it.

You’ll be amazed at the results.

—Bob Schenck


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