Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Riding Those Ponies

In this day of quick and easy answers from the internet, it is too easy for our students to give in to the expedient and avoid the honorable. I have seen students take a question and make a bee-line for Wikipedia and not really read the article but scan it and hit the print button. They will read the copy later. On top of that, they also make multiple copies and distribute them to their classmates. They too will read the copies later. I have seen Latin students (gasp!) Google a poem of Catullus, make copies, and pass them around. No problem, though, their homework is done and they can move on to more important things.

O tempora! O mores! What would Cato say? What would Cicero think? What would Quintilian do?

The answer lies in what we expect from our students. They have ready access to all the answers and this resource is not going away. We as teachers need to refocus our efforts and teach our charges how to handle and understand all these answers. What is a good answer and what is bad? Why? How can one tell the difference?

Unfortunately the machines are now the vessels of knowledge. The belief among the students are that there is no longer a need to learn and memorize, regardless of the need to spout forth these seemingly random facts on the so-called high stakes test du jour.

I tell my students that they need to learn how to think, how to analyze, and how to understand what is being said by the author we are reading. If they take the easy path and print out someone else's translation, they are, in fact, defeating the purpose for being in the class. Anyone can read off from someone else's efforts and feel satisfied... but to what end?

More thoughts later -- I think I'm just rambling here.