Teaching Unblindered

Credit: iStock.com/eyecrave productions
Credit: iStock.com/eyecrave productions

In a now-classic scene in Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV for those of you keeping track), pilot Luke Skywalker has one shot to destroy the Death Star. He must fly in a narrow channel and hit a small target. To concentrate, he focuses with the help of the Force, keeping emotions and distractions at bay, almost like mental blinders. Racehorse trainers similarly use blinders so the horses focus on the race. The focus helps Luke save the day and keeps horses on track. We teachers often wear different kinds of blinders. I suggest we take them off.

Teachers have a lot on their plates. The average fixed-term instructor is teaching four to five courses per semester, 10 or more courses per year. Tenure-track instructors teach perhaps half that number and add research responsibilities to their position descriptions. Sprinkle in healthy doses of service. When it comes to teaching, the traditional model has been to focus on delivering content and skills to students. Each class plays a role in the curriculum, and the instructor finds it incumbent on themselves to make sure the students get the content the class is designed to cover. The blinders are on. The focus defaults to coverage.


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