[Milton-L] Correction

Mike Felker mfelker at southplainscollege.edu
Thu Feb 26 10:13:16 EST 2004

James Rovira wrote,

<First, a community college instructor said he suffered something like a
class revolt when he attempted to assign memorization, so withdrew the

Then, a student responded saying she was "irritated" by instructors
that  cave in to their students in this way, saying (essentially) that
instructors should have some confidence that they know what assignments
are best for the course and assign them.  If students refuse to
participate, then they lose the grade.>>

I'm the community college instructor and my posting was a long time ago,
but I'd like to make one correction.  I never required memorization,
much less withdrew the assignment because the students objected.  I
don't let students determine what we study or do.

My posting should have made clear that I have never required
memorization from my students who are taking one literature course
because they need a humanities class to graduate with an Associate's
Degree; the only English course(s) they are required to take is Comp I
for Technical majors and Comp I and II for Academic majors.  This will
be the terminal English class for 99% of my students; I want them to
have a good feel about literature when they leave.  Yes, to "enjoy" it.
That is why I specified that my students are not the senior or graduate
English majors or the West Point cadets most of you teach; mine are kids
learning welding or air conditioning repair, or majoring in
pre-engineering, or in education.  I get them for one or two semesters,
and then they are gone.

However, I added that this thread has given me a lot to think about.   I
am now considering adding a student presentation to the class which
would / could involve memorization.  One of my colleagues pairs off her
students and each pair does a presentation over a work in the text not
read in class; the students love designing costumes and props, and then
trying to outdo each other.  The "key" that has me thinking this way has
come from several on this list:  you let the student pick something he
or she enjoys.  My own experience in high school and college consisted
of the entire class being forced to memorize and recite something the
teacher chose, and I would still argue that the student's response to
that is definitely not pleasure, nor the sense of a job well done, but a
sense of relief at being done with it.

Do I still remember what I memorized in high school and college?  Yes.
Do I take pleasure in that?  Not really.  Do I take pleasure in having
memorized Yeats or Eliot or Chaucer?  Yes, because I chose to do so, or
because I taught what I loved until I had it by heart.  I won't let my
students choose to do the assignment or not, but I do plan to let them
choose a work they like; then, they will be expected to learn it,
understand it thoroughly, and present it to their classmates.  I'm
looking forward to trying this next semester.

Mike Felker

More information about the Milton-L mailing list