Seat Time is Not Pedagogy

All, Teaching Tips

Honestly, I can’t even believe I have to make that statement (seat time is not pedagogy), but a conversation I had yesterday is troubling me because it signals the path that my department and institution have chosen–a path that circles back to past policy and practice rather than looking ahead to innovation and transformation. I fully recognize that not all innovation is successful and that we should not innovate simply for the sake of innovation, but neither should we simply hit the reset button and default back to our original settings — especially when those original settings were not supported by research.

The recent push back against hybrid and online writing classes feels like a way to control our faculty rather than a way to improve instruction and learning. I also suspect that some of this stems from a disdain for our students. Many educators at all levels do not believe that students (of any age) can be trusted to understand or manage their own learning process. Even worse, I do not believe these problems are unique to my institution. When I looked up definitions of pedagogy before embarking on this blog post I was struck by how many focused simply on the words “the method and practice of teaching.” It was only the Wikipedia definition that I chose selected to accompany this post that actually included the most important part of teaching.

I worry that far too often policy and practice (and definitions) leave out the learner — and how that policy and practice will influence growth. I worry that too many educators do not see their students as agents and continue to cling to the old banking methods. I worry that too many educators see our role as vocational in its most limited sense (skill and drill) rather than the actual practice of vocational education (hands-on learning steeped in real-world application). I worry that too many educators equate seat time with pedagogy.

I am frustrated that even today online education is seen as something lesser or even detrimental. I am frustrated that bad practice by some means that good practice by others must be curtailed. I am frustrated that there is little or no understanding of the power of the hybrid teaching model.

I think this argument, or rather series of arguments, might need a bigger blog post (insert your own Jaws joke here) because my frustration is boiling over and I really need to devote some time and energy to supporting the growth of the learners in my charge. While I believe the teacher is central to the learning process, I do not believe my job is to place myself in the center. I believe in providing instruction, but I also believe in sending my students forth to investigate and experiment and practice before we come back together to compare notes about our journeys. What are your thoughts about the definition of pedagogy? What are your thoughts about seat time?

 

 

2 comments

  • If instruction doesn’t begin with “What the learner wants to do/understand/create/model/explain…” something is seriously awry. If, as is often the case with first-year writing classes, we ignore the attitudes of learners and don’t make concerted efforts to link the teaching to their purpose for being in the classroom, we miss the most essential component. We begin with the learner; pedagogy underpins the INTERACTIONS, students as AGENTS and teachers as FACILITATORS (see above) that we select to move the learner forward. Thanks for repeating what should seem obvious.

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