Our last class has left a real impression on me. During class, I kept starting to write something in the MOO and then I kept deleting it. It was a bizarre little psychosis: I felt so strongly about what we were debating…yet I hated everything that I was going to writeX-S
I don’t WANT to be a member of Grammar Gestapo. The worst feeling comes from being too strict on student work and positively KILLING any passion and life in their essays. Said victims, who want a good grade more than anything, robotically churn out dull, soulless Engfish drivel, and I think, “Oh no. I really did it this time.”
The day after our class (heh heh, mere hours for me), I talked about what kind of teacher I am to a colleague of mine. At first, I confessed to being Grammar Gestapo…but it’s more complicated than that. I appreciate peer-o-gogy via peer evaluation; I reinforce the idea of writing as a recursive process via drafts whenever possible; and I also try to fan the flame when I read passion in student essays. Nothing brightens my day like seeing students taking risks in their essays – calculating and playing with their English language skills. They’re all speakers of other languages, and English is often their 3rd of 4th language, so…more power to them!
So…does that still make me Grammar Gestapo?
Very soon, I’ll begin the tough job of designing a course. It isn’t Composition, but rather an Introduction to Film course. I want it to be completely different than any other course that these Education City students have taken. I want it to be dynamic and invigorating, and I want it to be COOL.
I’m afraid of failing, too. I’m a film buff – as in foreign and indie and a smattering of Hollywood fodder – but I haven’t been trained per se in the film arts. Yet…my students won’t be film experts. Of course, they’ve seen scores of films, but their majors will mostly be in Engineering, Medicine, Computer Science, and Journalism. Therefore, I try to downplay the fact that I haven’t taken so many film courses and that I’m a great admirer of celluloid from directors as diverse as Pedro Almodovar to Ang Lee to Martin Scorsese.
The class will be issued iPad 2s so that they can rewind and re-watch as many times as they like. I plan to somehow employ Twitter. At the end of the semester, their project may entail creating an iMovie or Camtasia project that includes various aspects of film noir, etc. There will be peer evaluations and there will also be pizza and pop.
But what if it sucks?
I know that I DON’T want it to be the environment of my English classes, where I literally run the class like a company and I’m quite strict – with grammar, with deadlines, with lengths of projects. Conversely, I can’t be a slacker because then they’d take advantage of that and try to run all over me.
Ultimately, I know that whatever I didn’t get right in the first round, it would get repaired in the second time I taught the course. I’m a bit of a perfectionist though, and I’d like the darn course to be perfect and enjoyable and organic and right bloody fabulous the first time!