TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, October 20, 2018

What Will Students Remember From Your Class In 20 Years?

Chronicle of Higher Education, What Will Students Remember From Your Class in 20 Years?:

One rainy September day, a small group of faculty members gathered around a conference table in a seminar room at my college to puzzle over an extraordinarily difficult question: Twenty years from now, what do we hope students will remember from our courses?

The answers were slow in coming, but fascinating. Some of us hoped students would remain intrigued by the subject of our course or discipline. ... Our answers were vague, broad, and aspirational. The things we wanted for our students, in the longest possible run, proved difficult to articulate in the language with which we normally described our teaching.

But one thing became painfully clear in the weeks that followed as we continued the conversation in person and in writing: None of us listed specific course content as something we hoped our students would recall in 20 years. The biologist made this point most clearly: "Everything I learned as an undergraduate, 25 years ago, is out of date. The same will be true for my students in 25 years." ...

It turned out we weren’t at all focused on hoping students "remember" some set of facts or ideas for 20 years, as we had framed it in the original question. Instead we hoped to have transformed our students in some fundamental way — to help enrich their intellectual lives, to make them into better people, to give them the skills and knowledge they would need to make the world a better place. ...

Twenty years from now, they want students to have retained:

  1. Passion for the subject ...
  2. A sense of disciplinary literacy ...
  3. An understanding of how the discipline matters in other realms ...
  4. An eye for the big picture ...

Scratch almost any of those four objectives, and you’ll find a larger desire — perhaps the very deepest one of all — even if it never comes out in precisely these terms: the hope that our courses will help students live better lives. We want them to live lives of wonder, to be happy, to thrive, to be successful, to be good people. We believe that our disciplines and courses have the capacity to contribute to those goals.

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I just hope that they can remember my name

Posted by: Cheyanna Jaffke | Oct 20, 2018 3:48:11 PM

Marcel Proust, having been asked why he traveled, said something like: I do not travel to see new things; I travel to see with new eyes.

Posted by: Herbert Lazerow | Oct 20, 2018 6:35:19 PM