This post was written by Colin Rathe, CRFC’s summer intern. Colin is a rising senior at Illinois Wesleyan University.
I am a history major with a concentration in education, and have every intention of becoming a teacher at the secondary level. In my collegiate coursework, I have been introduced to many concepts and strategies that encourage social justice and student growth in the classroom. As a future educator, I am aware of some of the strengths and weaknesses of my viewpoints. On a positive note, I am up-to-date on the numerous teaching philosophies that educators promote and I am undoubtedly willing to put the necessary work in to construct meaningful lessons. Negatively, it is possible that I will implement strategies poorly due to lack of experience. This may mean that I will design an unrealistic or impractical lesson. What I hope can be taken away from this message is that I am thinking about how I can assist in student learning through engagement and deliberation; Furthermore, the importance of deliberation and discourse as a means of sparking student growth.
I think it is safe to say that a student learns most effectively when he/she is actively engaged with the material. The resulting question is how teachers and educators can promote this engagement in their allotted time sessions. One way in which to engage students is by presenting materials that force students to create their own interpretations and viewpoints. It is important that the materials given to the students make them think. In the discipline of history, it could be a primary source that forces the student to consider the main arguments, authenticity of the source and its creator, and what it may mean in a much larger context. Once students have been given the necessary resources and formulated responses, then it should become their objective to share their ideas. By sharing and explaining their own ideas as well as listening to others, students will be engaged in a discourse that helps construct a more meaningful discussion and engagement. If a student is not engaged and is only a bystander to the material being presented, then the student will not be reaching full potential.
The student who does actively engage with the material will not only grow as a learner, but also as a member of society. There will be content that is acquired through deliberation, but it also promotes liberationist qualities. When students begin reasoning for themselves they begin to find self-worth in their own ideologies. There will be differences in viewpoints among students, but that should be encouraged. No student is the same as another, and students need to discover their own ideas to become a better learner.
Views expressed in this article are not necessarily that of CRFC’s.