Blau Ch. 8

One of the most interesting and new strategies that Blau brings up is in Chapter 8. In the Interpretation Project on p. 177 he recommends that students do not do any library or web based research, but rather to use information from the papers’ or thoughts of other students in the group to support or contrast their point in their own papers.

The beginning stages of this project is described much like a difficulty paper, but I am conflicted over this twist of using each other as sources. On one hand, it’s great because as Linkon brought up in her article, a lot of students do not know how to research properly or how to use the information they find from research. Blau also points this out in saying that students may end up writing a paper that cites source after source instead of developing their own independent ideas. However, I think there could be a lot of room for misinterpretation with students using each other as a source of authority on the subject when the students themselves are trying to figure it out. A “good” student might be able to pull an idea from another student that they find is an “incorrect” interpretation and use that to show or discredit an alternative point of view. This student may also be able to pull another students’ similar idea to defend their own point. But, what about the other students who struggle developing their own interpretations on the poem/story let alone extrapolating from another student’s ideas.

This almost reminds me of a semester I had where the professor barely lectured or spoke during class; instead, students were divided into groups and were to present on the weekly topics. The students acted as teachers, informing us other students of the research they had done on a certain form of poetry. In a lot of ways this was great for the student presenting, because as Blau mentioned earlier and in this situation the teacher often learns more when teaching than the student. However, as a student listening to what may or what may not have been a correct parlaying of information on the subject. I had a difficult time parsing through the presentations by students for pertinent information. I think it also has a lot to do with seeing the teacher as the authority, which as we discussed is not always good because students may take a teacher’s lecture or interpretation as the sole way to think.

I guess I need to see results of this type of project, which Blau didn’t really provide for this section, before I would try this in a classroom.