13.0158 bodies and minds

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 25 Aug 1999 22:40:31 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 158.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 22:25:31 +0100
From: BRUNI <jbrun@eagle.cc.ukans.edu>
Subject: Re: 13.0148 queries to exercise the mind

> Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 20:40:46 +0100
> From: Michele Peers <Peers@NKU.EDU>
> >
> Okay, so I'm a late bloomer, there is nothing to be done about it except to
> ask (plead) for help. I am teaching my first totally web based course. I
> have done a couple web assisted courses and found that the students were
> still totally, by choice, dependent on the traditional classroom
> interactions. I realize that I didn't push them out of the nest, but I
> find that hard to do with freshmen and sophomores. Additionally, while I
> knew my chosen web site links were necessary I was never quite confident
> that they were sufficient.
> Anyway, this new class will be totally web based and I will never see or be
> seen by this group of students. Nest problem solved!? I would like some
> understanding of what this group of students will need or experience
> emotionally/ psychologically/ educationally. I would also like some
> pointers on having enough (too much?) information site links for the
> students. Do I need pointers on my personal emotional/ psychological
> reactions to web teaching? Will I have to think very differently?

I would like to know the rationale for pushing students out of "the nest."
Do we really want to further students' feelings of separation, isolation,
unfamiliarity, and alienation that seem to be the norm at most colleges, where
students are too often treated as numbers and/or figures on the profit
sheet? What is being left out of a learning experience that refuses modes
of physical interaction? I do not believe such interactions are part of
the "traditional," here being read as bad, outdated, classroom; rather
physical interaction is part of our lived experiences (both as students
and teachers) as being embodied.

I do think that technology in the classroom can contribute to our
students' learning, but we have to be careful not to force them to
participate in an environment that pretends to forget that they have
bodies as well as minds.

I also think that there may be somewhat of a condescending attitude
towards students for being afraid to plunge into virtual
education. Instead, students who act this way are simply not willing to
pretend that a meaningful learning environment can be achieved
without students "seeing" who is learning with them, and perhaps even more
importantly, who is assigning their grades.

John Bruni
Department of English
University of Kansas

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