I have a lot of influence on my students. Whether I accept that fact or not, it is true. My opinions can sway a student. I can change their minds. I can potentially turn students off of my subject if I’m not careful.
To that point, I started the agriculture unit in AP Human Geography. It’s the unit that holds my attention the most. I personally find it fascinating. I could talk about the subject for a long period of time. On the one side, I find it scary the potential long-term impact of our agricultural practices on the planet and ourselves. On the other, those same practices are impressive in the ability to sustain over 7 billion people.
On the second day of the unit, I was asked, “Are you vegan?”
No; but, the comment made me reflect on how I bring in my narrative of the industry. My incredible power and influence can change how they feel about the world. When I do that, their change in attitude is more about what I feel than what they have decided.
My job should not be to impart my values, but rather present information to them and have them decide. I can and should push their thinking through questions that are provocative and thought-provoking. If I do that, the students can come to the conclusions I’ve made or not, but it will allow me to dialogue with those who don’t in a more constructive way.
From what I have seen in the first few days, this stopping and working through each word is helping get at just that. As Dana put it, “I wished we word spend more time trying to comprehend the vocab. This would help me remember better because I would learn. Studying one word for more time will help me comprehend and learn.” I’m doing that this semester. They have spoken and I want to honor that.