Reading, Learning, Forgetting, and Pilates
Last night I was grading a set of basic comp paragraphs. The assignment was a response to an excerpt of Stephen King's On Writing. (Thanks to my colleague, Christine Cusick, for encouraging me to using readings about writing in the course.) Two issues arose. The first: a number of students just did something different instead. Okay, I didn't remind them the class period before that this paragraph had a specific text to work with, so this mistake was understandable. The second: one student wrote about the fact that he didn't understand what the essay was talking about. Now, if he'd interacted with his own misunderstanding in any kind of a thoughtful way, I would have liked what he did. But he simply paraphrased a couple of short sections of the essay and then stated, repeatedly, that he didn't know what it had to do with writing. This same student had stated in class that he didn't follow King's reasoning, and we had gone carefully back over it. I felt frustrated because I thought he'd broken through. In fact, I do think he understood the essay in class. I know there are attention problems involved, but still . . . this was one of those moments when I wish I could just open up a student's brain and pour the knowledge in.
I guess this is one of those occasions when I have to go back to my Pilates model of teaching Basic Comp. I am no athlete, and just because my Pilates instructor shows me how to do something repeatedly . . . and just because I did it once successfully . . . that doesn't mean I'll remember to, or be able to, do the same move again one week later.