Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Just got back from my third meeting with my HON 179 class. Though many of them are still a bit shy about speaking up in front of one another, they're coming out of their shells a little bit. Notably, every single student contributed at least a little bit to the conversation, and though there were five or six folks who were more talkative than others, no one out-and-out dominated the discussion. It was healthy.

Healthy too was the tone the conversation took about two thirds of the way through class, at which point we were discussing the idea of regretfulness, and whether and in which cases expressions of regret are sincere. For a few minutes the conversation continued for the sake of the conversation itself, and not to impress the teacher. For those few minutes students actually seemed to be responding to one another, following up on each others' thoughts with interest, and speaking directly to one another and not to me. It was delightful!

It reminded me of the way in which the classroom conversation involves in Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. On that album, the interstitial tracks carry a conversation held in a classroom full of adolescents talking about a very difficult (for them) topic to talk about, namely love. At first the conversation is stilted, forced, academic. It begins with the students reading aloud the letters "L," "O,", "V," "E" as they are written on the board before them. It gradually evolves, relaxing, loosening, switching from the rigid code of the academic setting to a lithe and lissome language of the streets. The evolution of that conversation is exactly the evolution I want to see in the conversations in my classroom. As I exhorted the students to try to talk more to one another than to me, I only half-jokingly said that I'd be assigning Lauryn Hill's album to them as required listening.

I might just do that...

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