Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Questions For The Professorial-type Readers Of This Blog

I raised a question over at Flavia's place the other day that has been bugging me.

To what extent do you demand that your undergraduate students accept the normative assumptions of your discipline? I'm less concerned if you demand that majors accept the normative assumptions because I assume they do willingly. Otherwise, one wonders why they chose their major. So, the question really is do you demand intro students accept the normative assumptions of your discipline? If so, have you considered whether this adversely affects their development as a student and human being?

4 comments:

arethusa said...

If you mean in a course like "Introduction to the Ancient World," then, no, I expect no familiarity with the assumptions of the field or the material. But if you mean in an upper-level yet introductory course - a Roman history survey or something similar - I expect them to at least be familiar with some basic tools of historical analysis, like critiquing sources. But that skill applies across so many disciplines that I don't feel it's specific to Classics. So, to very little extent. And I don't see how my offering them a new skill, if it is new to them, will "adversely [affect] their development as a student and human being." Unless they are the type of student who gets upset when you tell them we can't know many things about the ancient world for certain.

Alpheus said...

I'm not sure exactly what the normative assumptions of my discipline are. I guess insofar as Classics is language learning, I do demand that students accept that there's a right and wrong way to speak and/or write a language. Insofar as it's literary criticism, I want the students to sympathize with the characters but also to treat literature as literature (i.e., to care about the writer's technique). Insofar as Classics is history, I want the students to see the past as autonomous and our own perspective as historically conditioned.

I think the point of all these normative assumptions is to draw students out of themselves and make them think in terms of a wide world -- in other words, to counteract The Big Assumption. If you don't have some normative assumptions that try to do that, do you still have education?

FLG said...

"If you don't have some normative assumptions that try to do that, do you still have education?"

No, you don't. In fact, that's really my primary criteria.

dance said...

I'm having a hard time distinguishing between the normative assumptions of my discipline and the way the world fundamentally works. Will have to give this one more thought.

 
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.