Re: farewell to Rommetveit/ teaching of psych

From: Melissa Lemons (
Date: Thu Sep 02 2004 - 05:36:09 PDT

Yes, that's the frustration I'm having. "It" can be done (making
academic psychology comprehensible) and I work very hard to do it. I
wasn't looking for an "answer" so much as finally saying "I get" the
Rommetveit issues, at least from the teaching standpoint. In my zeal to
teach the academics I sometimes fail to see students as individuals who
contribute to understanding of the field as well.
I've known you too long to forget that learning is an interactive
process, but I think I fall into the scientist mode, trying to maintain
objectivity while teaching students the scientific method, which allows
us to discover "truth." In some ways, in my perceptions, students are
constantly moving between "objects" of activity and subjects with real
agency in the classroom.
I think my students are equally frustrated by my inability to truly
understand their military convictions. Their responses sound very much
like religious beliefs to me--deeply held, even when poorly understood
by the individual.
Maybe my disbelief in what they say encourages me to work harder to
make the academic content more meaningful to them. Teaching of
psychology is a politcal exercise or a ministry, if you will.
Encouraging critical thinking seems one of the few defenses in the
current political nightmare. That same attitude makes it difficult to
maintain an image of students (research participants, etc.) as
real "I's" in the conversation.
Thanks for letting me ramble,

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Cole" <>
Date: Thursday, September 2, 2004 2:15 am
Subject: Re: farewell to Rommetveit/ teaching of psych

> Melissa-- Your wrote in part:
> When I think I am
> trying to create I-thou communications, sharing what I believe to be
> truly valuable and helpful research and theory, students
> experience a
> foucs on "it." "It" here is the content of psycholgy, some strange,
> distant and personally insignificant course topic. When students
> try to
> share experiences about a crazy Aunt Sally or child with behavioral
> problems in an effort to personally and meaningfully engage in the
> material, I tend to respond with "No, that's not 'it'" discussions
> about research and theory.
> Am I missing the point here? Maybe there is some point at which enough
> mastery of "it" allows for more meaningful conversations between I's.
> --------------
> Am I correct that you find the stuff in the textbooks to be
> uninterpretablein useful terms by your students? The "It" is the
> academic way of understanding?
> If so your question is whether mastery of academic stuff can ever
> allowfor meaningful conversations between people ("I"s using
> everyday concepts?
> Is that the problem you are posing? If so, I can try to answer, if
> not, can
> you rephrase.
> mike

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