More with our Curriculum Partners

Trip Start May 04, 2007
Trip End May 21, 2007

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

15 May Tuesday

We spent today with our curriculum partners.

We each left this morning at different times-Julie was traveling to London with a group of students to see a surrealist art show and Tory to the North Road campus. I spent the early morning reading through the material Roy sent me in preparation for joining his class this morning. I read "Daffodils" by William Wordsworth and "A Summer Evening's Meditation" by Anna Laetita Barbauld, two prime examples of English Romantic poetry from the 18th century.

I met Roy, my English department colleague, in his office at 9am. We talked about the poems and about his approach to the class. He had a lecture prepared for the first half of the class; the second half would be a class discussion about the material. Roy invited me to particularly join the discussion. Ultimately, I didn't, as I didn't want to interrupt the student's discussion.

The class was similar to ones I've had. Some students talked, others didn't. But everyone seemed to be paying attention and taking notes. Roy has an engaging teaching style. Students seem comfortable talking in the class, and Roy was supported of their questions along with providing additional points for critical thought. It was very informative class for me to observe.

After the class ended at 11:45, I arranged to meet Roy later at 3:15 to drive over to the Lower Constitution Hill campus for a curriculum meeting with other lecturers in the department. After picking up a mature cheddar and mango sandwich from the Square Sandwich, a local sandwich shop, I spent a couple of hours catching up on my blogs.

At 3:15, I met Roy and we drove over to Lower Constitution Hill. Along the way, we talked about issues of race in American and British sport. Our conversation was prompted by my questions about a poster in his office about getting racism out of football (British soccer). We talked the similarities and differences between sports in American and British sport.

We were early for the meeting, so Roy gave me a tour of some buildings I had yet to see. They are houses, used as classrooms, sitting up on the hill behind trees. They were built around the turn of the century and donated to the local council, who in turn turned them over to BPC to use. We also toured the Learning Resource Centre, an octagonal building used as a library and IT center.

We returned for the meeting. Instead of pursuing their normal agenda, which Roy said often includes specific curriculum requirements they must include in their courses, they turned the meeting over to talking with me about teaching (in general and in the different countries). In general, all their issues were about the ways they feel limited in their ability to teach. Their concerns were:

* "teaching to the exam"-their concerns that their courses are directly geared towards teaching the students to that they can pass the required exit exams at the end. They felt this limited their ability to cover more material.

* "declining reading skills"-the declining ability, and willingness, of students to read longer pieces of literature. We discussed whether this was a sign of a change in literacy to a more multimedia literacy, or a lack of reading discipline on the students, or a lack of more reading requirements in school

* "tutoring limitations"-their concerns that the extensive tutoring system was not allowing students to take more responsibility for their choices and actions.

Their honesty in their comments was very informative. It gave me a more rounded perspective on the topics my colleagues and I have been studying for the last two weeks.

After I thanked them for their time, then Roy drove me back to my hotel. I met up with Tory for dinner (Julie wouldn't be back from London for several more hours). We walked to the town centre to find a place to eat. It was lightly raining, so we quickly ducked inside the first pub we found. We sat for a few minutes, talking about our day. We found out, though, that the pub has just stopped serving food, so went out again into the rain.

We walked a bit longer and came upon Wagamama, a noodle bar. Tory had hear of this place in London, so we decided to give it a try. We were seated at a long table with benches next to other patrons. There was a shelf under the table for our bags and jackets. We ordered real fruit drinks (for me, apple and orange) juiced right there from real fruit, and several very tasty noodle dishes. I've been fighting off a cold, so the real fruit drink and these noodles were just what I needed.

Back at the hotel, we met up with Julie. We ordered some tea and biscuits and sat down to catch up on our blogs.  
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