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ERIC Number: ED277412
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986-Nov-21
Pages: 7
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
Developmental Education: Stories We Tell Our Students.
Seymour, Evan
Making sense of developmental education in the two-year college is difficult, particularly in the shadow of the fear that it is not working very well. There is no choice, however, but to examine openly a serious problem. The "story" about developmental education in the two-year college that most educators would like to believe is that of "struggle, followed by struggle, followed by success." Students placed in developmental courses are told that they are in class to develop the skills they will need to succeed in college-level courses. Most instructors are aware that this "story" is not true. Their own justifications for remedial education focus instead on the good experiences that developmental courses do provide; the positive effects of improved reading and writing skills on students' employment expectations; and the effects of developmental courses on cultural awareness, educational attitudes, or citizenship. Some of these substitute stories may be true, some false, some difficult to verify. Before a new story can be told a sharp eye must be cast at the social context in which the story telling occurs. The protagonist of the new story about developmental education would not be the individual student or the instructor, but rather the entire social class from which the remedial student emerges. With the "urban underclass" as the protagonist, a new set of questions arises. What damaging beliefs about itself has this class accepted from above? What beliefs about success in school does it hold? How should the clash between student and teacher be interpreted and be transformed? Can the urban underclass adopt some version of middle-class academic culture without betraying itself? To what extent do developmental programs reproduce in college the ghettoization of the urban underclass in the city? The plot structure for the new story would be "struggle, followed by struggle, followed by questions." (EJV)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the National Conference of the Community College Humanities Association (San Francisco, CA, November 20-22, 1986).