"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Students learning--color in a gray world

Color in a gray world--5 /1/2 by 8 1/2 watercolor, 140 # d'Arches paper
"It's the first time the student has smiled this semester."
So said a colleague after I was a guest speaker in a class today.

  • Other students asked several questions.
  • Still another blurted out answers.
  • I could see eyes light up.
  • There were some laughs, some smiles.
  • Genuine interest.
  • Wanting to know more.
  • Spontaneous conversation.
  • Thinking.
  • Excitement.
  • Curiosity.

It's what teachers long for, trying to generate interest and participation from students who have been mind-numbed by mass factory rote learning and testing overloads that make learning boring and irrelevant. 
I know from conversations with friends and other colleagues, that these reactions, the students, are what keep us going, give us hope in the mind-numbing cookie-cutter administrative world of higher education.
I saw some of these reactions today, and some on good days when I do my job well in my classes. My colleague's comment told me what was inside today....Thus the watercolor.
Here is what I see when students are learning--color in a gray world.

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