ERIC Number: ED339031
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
With Fits and Starts: How Collaborative Learning Fares in the Hierarchical, Authoritarian University.
A writing teacher, troubled by the hierarchical, authoritarian design of his courses, restructured his writing classes to alter the dynamics of authority in the classroom. The idea was rooted both in Paulo Freire's writings and in the simple notion that students should be designing their own writing tasks. First, students brainstormed possible themes for their magazines. Then they divided up into editorial boards, within which they collaborated, first, in soliciting articles from other class members and, next, in designing, composing, and editing their magazines. In doing so each student fulfilled two roles: writer and critical reader. The teacher was left to coach and, through contractual grading, to keep track of students' progress. The results of this "publication workshop" approach were positive as students took delight in choosing their topics, approached the tasks of writing and editing with new energy, produced a fine final product, and even embraced topics such as race, class and gender without the coercion of their teacher. In a survey circulated among the program initiator's colleagures it was found, interestingly enough, that this approach, usually branded as "leftist" by teachers who still employed the old authoritarian methods, was also branded as "rightist" since, with no explicit reference to race, class, or gender, it lacked the requisite credentials of a leftist agenda. Other teachers felt that the workshop approach did not allow for the inclusion of materials and lessons which they deemed to be important. Despite the lack of trust that was revealed in many answers, and despite evidence that human beings generally do not really want to share authority, the publications workshop provides an opportunity to share power and experience such a model as the norm and as a reminder that oppression shall never be overcome by modeling oppression. (PRA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Collaborative Learning; Freire (Paulo); Student Led Activities
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (42nd, Boston, MA, March 21-23, 1991).