October 1st, 2009

'Pedagogy of Ironic Minimalism'

By:

This fall marks Robert Nash’s 41st year in the classroom. When asked about retirement plans, he reports telling colleagues that he’ll go when they carry him out in a box and bury him on the main university green.

“So much of what I’ve learned about teaching in the academy over four decades can be summarized in this way: often when I teach less, I find that I actually teach more. I call this a ‘pedagogy of ironic minimalism.’ Whenever I take time to call forth what it is my students actually know, and whenever I intentionally minimize the ‘endless breadth and depth’of my own ‘vast wisdom and knowledge,’ then my students learn the most. This, dear readers, is why I keep coming back to the classroom—for lo these many years.”

This is such an important lesson and such a needed affirmation of students. These days we hear mostly about all those things students don’t bring to the classroom. In Tuesday’s blog I reminded us how what students believe about learning impacts their efforts to learn. Today it’s about what faculty believe about students and how that affects their efforts to teach.

Reference: www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/09/22/nash