Mike Rose, one of my favorite writers about the education of first-generation college students (and much more) has written an interesting post on a recent Atlantic Monthly article by a faculty member frustrated by the lack of preparation among many of his freshman composition and humanities courses.
The professor doesn’t come across as a bad guy, and he frets over the grades he must dole out. But what is so frustrating to people like me, certainly to those who told me about the article, is that the professor seems clueless about alternative ways to engage his students in the humanities and help them become more effective critical readers and writers. Nor does he seem to grant them much experience or intelligence that could be brought to bear on core topics in the humanities.
I share this deep frustration with the “cluelessness” among the well-educated middle class, while poor and working class people shoulder (and internalize) the blame when things go awry in school.
Rose writes that the stance of such educators is one of “shock or dismay or cynicism rather than curiosity and engagement.”
In an culture in which even enlightened, educated, and otherwise liberal educators rationalize away their own professional frustrations by inferring that the students before them are not entitled to even be in their courses, how do we spur our colleagues to the most basic level of curiosity about students from backgrounds very different from their own?