Why It’s Hard to Think About Education, Part 2
We just started the Spring semester and I asked students to reflect on the Fall. As usual, I received lots of great feedback, both positive and constructive. And as usual, I was reminded how difficult it can be to think broadly about education.
Here are two comments taken from adjacent rows of my spreadsheet.
“You should use peardeck. It’s really interactive.”
“I would say don’t use interactive slideshows like peardeck”
The responses contained more apparent contradictions. You should require students to have their cameras on in breakout rooms . . . Thank you for not requiring us to have our cameras on . . . One of my teachers created a name wheel to pick on students randomly; please don’t do this . . . You should consider using a name wheel.
I say apparent contradictions because there is no real inconsistency here. These comments are all reasonable, thoughtful, and grounded in truth. It’s just that different students have different truths. Each student experiences education in their own way. What works for one student may not work for another. What works for one teacher may not work for another. What works today may not work tomorrow.
I wrote this last year when I collected feedback at the end of emergency remote learning. This is part of what makes teaching, and thinking about teaching, so difficult. There’s no single problem that you can find the answer to. It’s about dealing with the many different problems and their seemingly contradictory answers every day. But this is also part of what makes teaching such energizing work, even if it’s hard to imagine what you do working at scale.