Wednesday, October 31, 2007

creative teaching or pandering to the philistines?

A vision of students today - a new video by Michael Wesch

This opens with graffiti on a (fade to grey) lecture room wall reminding us that there is not much difference between attending a boring lecture and doing hard time in gaol as a political prisoner being tortured by fascists:
"If these walls could talk"
"What would they say?"
Then a document appears on the screen and we are informed that 200 students made 367 edits to it and surveyed themselves to bring a message to the viewer of this video.

Implication: Because a lot of students made a lot of edits it's probably "insightful". That doesn't follow actually. Some collective work is good, other collective work is crap. We should never judge this by the number of contributors or edits but by the work itself.

Not sure where Michael Wesch is going with this, it does say “to be continued” at the end. The students looked a bit uncomfortable to me, not quite certain that it was OK to boast about their lack of reading, missing lessons or not paying attention.

My idea of a University is that it ought to challenge and be difficult in a way that is also engaging but without pandering to engagement in a populist, philistine manner. Michael Wesch may be engaging his students but it’s not clear where he is going to take them or even whether he sees that as part of his role

Thanks to daniel livingstone for this one

2 comments:

Daniel Livingstone said...

"Some collective work is good, other collective work is crap. We should never judge this by the number of contributors or edits but by the work itself."

Very well said!

I think Michael does make very nice videos, but what is presented here is simply the results from a survey of a moderate sample of students. A very nice and imaginative piece of coursework for the students to have worked on I think, but we have to wait for part 2 to see where its going...

Mark Miller said...

I spotted this video. I could sympathize with some of what was said. I could relate to some of it, too, from when I was in college 14 years ago. I'm not necessarily endorsing it when I say this. My study habits in college were not that great.

Some of it made me feel uncomfortable, like it was pandering, whining, complaining in a populist way but providing no answers. I guess as Daniel says, that's what part 2 will be about?