My father, a former drill instructor in the USMC, once told me that he’d stomp on a recruit’s foot to teach him right from left — “your right foot is the one that hurts.” Last night in an aikido class I accidentally got hit in the throat. Today I can talk, but it hurts. I can’t project my voice like I usually do. So in class this morning I decided not to talk at all.
Students had already generated a list questions on the course’s website from reflecting in writing on previous class discussions, and I wanted the next exam to be an exercise in learning in addition to the usual one of evaluation. At the beginning of class, I displayed the following instructions on the big screen:
- Form groups of 4.
- Choose the question from the list that your group thinks is most interesting.
- Revise it if needed so that it is concise and can be applied to the readings.
- Prepare an explanation for why the question should be included on the next exam.
- Each group will briefly present its question and explanation.
- The class will vote on whether each question should be on the next exam.
I expected discussion to break out between groups on the relative merits of each group’s question, but this didn’t happen — perhaps because students felt that voting gave them sufficient influence over the outcome. I was pleased though that a couple of the questions that I thought were most perceptive received high numbers of votes. This means part of the work in creating the next exam is already done.
You will actively learn . . .