Thursday, November 29, 2012

Back of the Bus

adult learning


                  I'm useless, but not for long
                 The future is coming on.
                                                             Gorillaz, Clint Eastwood


Coming up to the end of my distance learning adventure.  Two weeks to go.

I’ve been pretty good at not coming here to mope and complain about the courses.  But tonight…. 

Perhaps the most vexing thing is their inability to stop tinkering.  I have one professor who gaily changes the parameters, requirements and even format of our assignments every few days.  (She calls it “refining”.)  The other has managed to be a bit better prepared, but she, in the days before an assignment is due, is forever asking to look over our shoulders so she can make helpful suggestions.

Ladies!  Go Sit Down!

You’ve given us an assignment.  You’ve given us course readings.  You’ve provided the rubric we’re to be marked with.  It’s time to trust us and allow us to do our work – that is, to be learners.

Seriously.  One facilitator to another.  If, after 10 weeks of a 12 week course, you don’t trust that you’ve given us enough “guidance” for us to complete the final assignment, you need to get another job.



Well… never mind all that.  Let me tell you what’s happening where learners are trusted.

My lowest level learner did up her Christmas cards, trying out different greetings and being very careful spelling names.  “It was easier this year than last,” she said.  More exciting, she told me she had made a shopping list, and then used it in the store, without any help.  “It was the first time I’ve done that without needing someone to read it back to me!”

Another, mid-level learner handed me back a novella and said, “Seventeen.”  What?  “That’s number seventeen.  I’ve read seventeen novels since the start of the year.”  Well, that’s great.  “I used to hate to read.” Well, that’s great too, I…. “Do you have any more?”  Er….

I had a guy stop by my class to ask if I still did one-on-one tutoring.  I remembered him, vaguely: very low literacy and some health issues.  Not right now, I said.  But that could change.  We made plans to talk.

Somebody yelled down the street at me the other day.  She’d written in September and passed all five GED tests.  “Thank You!” She yelled – though in truth I can’t take much credit for that one.

A learner I was worried about – someone who seemed to be stalling out – discovered chemistry.  They wrestled their way through a pre-GED book and then the chemistry section of the Steck-Vaughn GED level science workbook, expressing disappointment when there were no more formulas to puzzle over. (The bad news is that I also had to learn chemistry, which I mostly didn’t.)

Oh, and somebody, vexed by algebra, jumped up and decorated the classroom.  Happy holidays.

I’ll be back soon to talk about what happened this year at Storytent, and what’s going on with Bookwagon.  I want to talk about some new resources from Orca Books and New Readers Press.  I want to spend a minute or two on a couple of interesting papers I came across in these courses.  All that and more.  Soon.

Meantime, I’ve got some work to do for the tinkersome twins.

Later.  :)


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