TRIGGER WARNING : This describes a pedagogical event
(experiment, experience) that defies institutional protocol
and practice. It will appropriately offend the Rigorist the
Rubric Driven and the SACS Enthusiast. I once spontaneously
told a class long ago that they didn’t HAVE to do anything.
It was an 8:00 class, a required first year composition
course topping off their previous 4 years of daily English
classes throughout high school, and they eventually quit
coming, except for one female who would arrive about ½
hour late and we’d have a pretty decent conversation.
Mostly “A’s” as I recall. Might have been some B’s & a C.
I came to class every day and busied my self writing, flooded
with notions and ideas some how instigated by the lack of a
student body: --the kind of presence which is present by virtue
of its absence. Thoughts about education, teaching, motivation,
authority—mostly authority: authors authorizing authority
authoritatively—flooded my mind during those early hours: a
self-seminar. . . .if not selfie.
no authority of my own, whatever charisma or expertise I
might think I had (look at their industrialism, heads bowed,
scribbling in note books every word I uttered) was all ex
officio authority by virtue of the institution and its grade-gun
& intellectual freedom like we say. Take away the force (vios),
and they are naturally gone, taking care of business where it
counts and makes good sense: your course, for example,
where attendance is mandatory or else. Human nature hates
that’s a difference that makes a difference. Handicapped by my
laissez-faire indifference, the students still all managed to graduate
and do well, ones that didn’t drop out or transfer, despite my
have to dabble in Upside Down Flamingo Alice in Wonderland
educating. It’s possible, and resource full—potentially innovative
if not rigorous in the usual sense. But there’s got to be an
Environment for it. It’s an Environmental Issue. It changed my
teaching life for good and for ill. I wouldn’t be the teacher I am
today if it hadn’t of been for that experiential experience & I’m
grateful for it, but confess it was like illegal immigration going on;
outlaw border-crossing toward frontiers yet unknown.