I hear of and see teachers who write comments on student drafts, sniffily, ?You have reached the maximum number of errors. Rewrite? or ?You do
n’thave a conclusion here. You need to add one.? The message here is clear as a bell: Your ideas do n’tmatter. To Hell with your ideas. Your obedience matters, or it should if you want recognition that you?re educable, that you?re part of society, that you?re productive and upstanding and Good. | It ‘sno wonder, then, that students talk about their education being a cycle of irrelevant and boring courses, and no wonder that the only thing that keeps them in school is the very instrumental goal of getting a degree. Instrumentality in education is neither new nor a problem as such?goals are good. That the notion of interrogating the world around them, the realities they face on a daily basis, or the ways in which they might become the authors of their goals and lives is so foreign is what leaves me despairing.
—A Writing Assignment (Mister B.S.)
Fortunately, I’m not quite this disillusioned yet. Or maybe I have been in the past, but learned to adjust my teaching style so that I can focus on progress rather than the gap between the work that students do and the work that they could do (and that at least some of them do do.)
Yes, incoming students have a lot to learn about their own education, but, isn’t that the point, and isn’t that why I have a job?