Teachers may romanticize or villainize students based on conjecture, personal experience, and anecdotal observations. But for the most part we remain in the dark about what students actually do and want. In My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2005), Rebekah Nathan moves us beyond speculation and gives us a useful portrait of college students’ lives, reporting on her observations during a year-long “undercover” anthropological study of college culture. This portrait includes bad news, good news, and an overall more complex and informed way of understanding students.
This image from France over 100 years ago predicts what school will look like in the 21st century: Students still sitting in rows but literally plugged into a knowledge machine. Fascinating as a commentary on education, it also raises questions for us to ponder about teaching and learning today. In particular, where did the dream of “knowing without learning” come from and why does it persist today?
In “Student Engagement and Learning,” Jillian Kinzie presents an overview of the current research on student engagement and learning. She concludes that when students are engaged, they are usually learning—and vice versa. In other words, “Engaging pedagogies matter . . .” (p. 151).