Fourth Class in the Seminar

Before Class: Today the plan is to start from the students’ initial personal definitions of globalization and develop a tentative class consensus definition. I reviewed the definition that my senior seminar came up with last Spring, and I really like it. I’d like to introduce it to the FSEM class, but I’m not going to because I don’t want to subvert their process of collective knowledge creation. That’s sounds pretty pretentious, but the truth is I want them to develop a definition that they can take ownership of. I don’t want this (or anything important in this course) to be something that is merely looked up.

After Class: As we began discussing the nature of globalization, the class presented an interesting dynamic. Students had thoughtful ideas to contribute, but I began to I feel that they perceived this as a dialog between them and me, rather than a discussion with the group. (Perhaps this is a developmental issue in a course of freshmen.) I made a point of moving away from the front of the class to see if I could get them to address their comments to the group. It didn’t work. They seemed unable or unwilling to bring the discussion to closure.

I began to wonder if I was the problem, if my presence was preventing them from completing the assignment–it seemed as if they were all waiting for me to reveal the “consensus” definition to them. (For a related point, see Sue’s comment on Gardner’s recent post.)

With 15 minutes remaining in the class, I told students that they needed to develop a consensus definition, one that they could all agree with, and post it on the wiki. At that point, I closed my laptop, collected my things and pointed left. They seemed startled, but they continued to work without me. You can see their definition here.

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