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December 22, 2014
bob-robinson-col

I’ll take two

NEWS FLASH!!! I just found out my granddaughter was accepted to American University in D.C. She got a $48,000 scholarship to boot! Congratulations, Monica!! Okay. Proud grampa done. Now… back to “I’ll take two.”

“If you could get an A in this class without showing up, would you still come to class?” Less than half the class raised their hands. “How many of you would NOT show up?” Most of them.

That’s the answer I get from every class. Nothing to learn, especially in a public speaking class. “You’re going to college to get a better job. Right?” All nod. “You already know what you need to know. Right?” Hesitation, partial nods. “Your boss looks at your resume… Hey, you got an A in Public Speaking. Maybe you’re management material. How about talking to the managers in the other departments about how you would…”

At that point I saw a few faces go pale. Students had already had two assignments requiring them to stand in front of the class and speak. A few looked like they were going to pass out. One later told me she almost threw up she was so scared. Some stuttered. Some forgot what they were going to say. It was a perfectly ordinary start for a perfectly ordinary class. And just like their predecessors, they got the message. I asked a third time. Nearly all students said they’d be back. It was one of the Edison Core Values… Respect for Learning.

Human Diversity. Ask most of my students and they’ll be happy to tell you there is none in rural, homogenous Darke County. No ethnic or big city diversity. Sure, we have both genders, go (or have gone) to different schools, live in town or in the country, not to mention individual diversity… Other than that? Pretty much the same.

Only one student got close to something they’d been dealing with for eight weeks… having to interact with someone a half century removed from them. Most of these kids could be my grandkids.

He noted the problem… “The instructor has a larger vocabulary than his students, and he sometimes uses words the students do not understand.” I grinned, remembering a comment I made in class. A student raised her hand. “What does that mean?” I used a different word. “Okay?” She shook her head. “I don’t know what that means, either.” I finally managed to come up with a word she understood.

They’re dealing with a major human diversity factor; they just haven’t figured it out yet.

I made a comment once to an educator that one of my jobs was to get my students to ‘think’ and ‘question’ before offering their thoughts or opinions. He grinned and said “good luck with that.” Our classes have had several exercises… I offer the scenario then ask what they would do. First time around? They were decisive… “I’d do this! Or I’d do that!” Until they realized they were missing information. In some cases even putting themselves or others at risk. Eight weeks later they aren’t so quick to make that judgment call. Critical Thinking.

I often tell my students I expect to learn from them as I expect them to learn from me. I think some get it, but not all. I also hope what they learn in their classes stick. My own experience as a kid was otherwise… like a dummy most of what I learned was in the school of hard knocks.

Two student comments stood out. One young lady remembers the respect for learning lesson and now equates it to all of her classes. The other comment came from a student I had to chastise, along with his buddy, for talking while I was talking.

Recently he said: “I did that all the time at school,” he said. “Nobody ever called me on it before.” He doesn’t do it now.

Teachers love to say “one student at a time.” I totally agree. In this case, however, I’ll take two.

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