A New Purpose

Now that I’m done experimenting with blogspace, I’ve decided to streamline this blog and focus on the scholarship of teaching.

I’m sure it’ll be a “dry” blog, at times, and maybe long-winded (as this entry no doubt will be). But I hope to pep it up with autobiographical inquiries as well as responses to research which I hope to share here. In the spirit of the “scholarship of teaching,” I invite dialogue about anything I post and invite feedback/recommendations to me via e-mail at arnzen@setonhill.edu.

I’m launching into this trajectory of inquiry because I want to learn more about the art of teaching and engage in scholarship the way it’s meant to be — in a public forum, involving research, open dialogue, and reflection. I don’t always expect to find answers to the problems I’ll pose; in fact, I hope to discover problems I hadn’t realized existed and uncover new issues that might be relevant to whoever might be reading this weblog. In the process, I hope to refine my own teaching abilities and continue to bring new methods to test out in that labratory known as the college classroom.

The majority of my students tell me in evaluations that I’m a great teacher and they enjoy my methods. I was recently promoted to Associate Professor of English, and in that process my colleagues wrote letters testifying to my talents in this area. There are even days when — based on the students’ feedback “buzz” in a good class — I step out of the room at the end of the hour grinning ear-to-ear, knowing I’m doing something right. But I know that I can do better — in fact, it’s my responsibility as a professional to strive to improve. Because teaching isn’t really about the teacher, but about the dynamic that opens up when people of different knowledge bases and divergent backgrounds communicate.

One thing I know I can do better is increase my awareness of teaching strategies and theories. I spend an awful lot of time reading textbooks and novels and student papers — and I have sacrificed reading and writing about the art and craft of teaching. I want to more self-consciously research and study pedagogy, learning from the experiences and speculations of others. Even the very definition of the “scholarship of teaching” is something I want to explore… I hear a lot of talk about it, but I know I haven’t read nearly enough.

Have you? I will share not only my own self-interested musings here, but links to research you might want to read yourself. Writing for an audience will give me an incentive to keep learning about learning and sharing what I’ve learned. I want to turn others on to what I’m interested in. That’s what teaching probably is, anyway, at the bottom of it all. A desire to open a doorway — whether familiar or not — with someone else’s hand….

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Michael Arnzen

Professor of English, Seton Hill University.

One thought on “A New Purpose”

  1. Great name — pedagogy + blog + dialogue. I’m hooked already.
    Have you heard of Fubini’s Law? I haven’t found a credible source (just blogs that point to other blogs), but wherever it comes from, it goes like this… First, people use technology so that they can do faster the things they already do (like using a web site as an archive for a bank of handouts that are themselves Word documents). Gradually, they begin using technology to do new things, which gradually change they way they work and live, which in turn filters out to society at large, and which eventually leads to more changes in technology.

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