Andy Selsberg: Twixt Tweet and Text
I've just read in the New York Times of an idea whose time may have come:
[A] few years ago, I started slipping my classes short writing assignments alongside the required papers. Once, I asked them, "Come up with two lines of copy to sell something you're wearing now on eBay." The mix of commerce and fashion stirred interest, and despite having 30 students in each class, I could give everyone serious individual attention. For another project, I asked them to describe the essence of the chalkboard in one or two sentences. One student wrote, "A chalkboard is a lot like memory: often jumbled, unorganized and sloppy. Even after it's erased, there are traces of everything that's been written on it."Great idea for those of us instructors weary of dealing with "font-size manipulation, plagiarism and clichés" in "the five-paragraph essay and its bully of a cousin, the research paper." The solution, according to Andy Selsberg? Don't go long! Go short!
A lot can be said with a little -- the mundane and the extraordinary. Philosophers like Confucius ("Learning without thought is labor lost. Thought without learning is perilous.") and Nietzsche were kings of the aphorism.Excellent learnéd aphorism from Confucius. Somebody now go tell the Confucians here in Korea that not all learning is long-rote memory work.
For the entire humorous but insightful short piece, see Selsberg's "Teaching to the Text Message," NYT (March 19, 2011).