Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

BI BOOKSHELF; an Era of Change

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

BI BOOKSHELF; an Era of Change

Article excerpt

Many of my colleagues and I have been teaching for at least 20 years. We have adjusted to larger classes, and to more foreign students with minimal English skills. We have learned the names of new rock stars and realize that our young students no longer read books for pleasure or know much about the Vietnam War or Jack Kerouac. We have learned to take more excuses for work tamed in late or in less proper academic format or language. We empathize with single mothers' hectic lives and with recovering drug addicts' struggles to stay clean.

Now several education authors are telling us that we have to change even more -- that we have to adapt our methods and materials to our students' lives and interests more. Is no one writing about how students might consider changing to better fit into academic life? This rhetorical question is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, of course, but in reality over the last five to 10 years, students have become more rude, more depressed and sometimes lazier. We understand some of the reasons for this, or at least we try hard to do so. The world is a colder and less peaceful place than when many of us were students. Young people truly have fewer prospects; life is more demanding and isolating.

But some of us are still doing an effective job at teaching in almost the same way we have over the years. Yet many authors keep telling us to change, change, change. Diversity & Motivation by Raymond J. Wlodkowski, a psychologist and teacher, and Margery B. Ginsberg, a researcher, consultant and teacher, in its second edition, follows in this track. They write, "We have more learners than ever before who perceive and believe differently, not only from ourselves but from one another as well."

The main thrust of this updated book is that we all need to be more culturally aware, tolerant and responsive. The essential ideas the authors promote are that higher education "respects diversity; engages the motivation of all learners; creates a safe, inclusive, and respectful learning environment; derives teaching practices from principles that cross disciplines and cultures; and promotes justice and equity in society." These are all wonderful goals which most of us already agree with.

However, I learned quite a few things from Diversity & Motivation that I will take with me into the classroom. …

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