We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls.
– Bill Bryson
Rather than jumping directly into registration, HGSE does something called course shopping in the days leading up to enrollment.
Each professor teaching a course in the fall hosts a 40-minute introductory session of the course in which syllabi are handed out and general questions are answered.
Though I was fairly certain I knew which courses I’d be taking this semester, course shopping was an invaluable experience.
For one, it eliminated the feeling of walking blindly into the whole process. One of the questions I asked of exiting students last semester during the open house was about the pedagogy of the professors on the whole.
I was told then (and rightly so) that pedagogical approaches varied as professors varied and that I would get a better idea from course shopping.
It’s quite true.
Initially, I thought this interest in pedagogy came from my identification as a teacher. I’m starting to see it comes from a different place. My questions and concerns around pedagogy rest in my needs as a student.
I wanted to know how my professors would be teaching and what they believed about classroom practice not because I was measuring them up as fellow teachers, but because I will be learning from them and wanted assurances of how they would see and treat me as a student.
This marks not only a shift in identity, but a better understanding of the agency which I am afforded as a graduate student.
I’d love to see course shopping in middle and high school classrooms. I’m curious as to how it would shift teaching practice if teachers were teaching students who chose to be in their classrooms and if students were in seats they’d chosen for themselves.
I’d venture to guess the naked emperors in the profession would be swiftly identified.
At the end of the day, I wanted to enroll in every class I shopped. To head off being overwhelmed by decisions, I stopped shopping once I’d built a schedule that was balanced and could meet my needs. I’ve got a course that will push me in uncomfortable intellectual places, a course that will wake up my math brain, a course that will invite deep debate and a course that will ask me to invest in new habits of mind.
In chronological order, my schedule will be:
Monday 4-7: A-341 Supporting Teachers for Instructional Improvement w/ Professor Richard Elmore
Tuesday/Thursday 11:30-1: S-012 Empirical Methods: Introduction to Statistics for Research w/ Professor Terry Tivnan
Tuesday 4-7: A-326 School Reform: Curricular and Instructional Leadership w/ Professor Katherine Merseth
Wednesday 2-4 (w/ weekly 90-min. sections): A-107 The Ecology of Education: Culture, Communities and Change in Schools w/ Professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot
And, it should go without saying, any times not listed above will be spent in a corner, reading for those courses.