Every marking period, I have my students do a brief, reflective exercise about the work they’ve been doing. I want them to see that there’s a purpose to what I ask them to do, and to teach them to be self-aware and critical so that they’re getting the most they can out of the time they spend in my class.
This afternoon, I came across this as I was grading a student’s reflections. She began by complaining about having to research the Occupy movement twice; I had the students do a little research back in October, and she couldn’t see the point in going back to look again. She started to realize, though, as she got deeper and deeper into the work, that there was a lot that had changed, and there were a number of new issues and ideas that really interested her.
I really liked this experience of doing the research for the assignment, and not so much for the assignment itself or the writing I did, but because this is one of the gems that can be found in my English class. Some things get me so engaged about the real world that it doesn’t feel like English at all. As we grow up, I think that English class should be more like this. These are things that are going to matter in years when we’re generation the solving the world’s problems. I’m reminded every day that English isn’t just about writing, but it’s also about communication, and more often than not, current events and real world issues.