Today in my creative writing class I was put on the chopping block. And I loved it. In that class we take turns having our pieces workshopped, and today was my turn. I sat back and listened to my classmates’ feedback. What they had to say about my essay was beneficial for me, but their suggestions went beyond just words. I could gauge their sincerity by their body language. I could hear in their intonation exactly what they were saying. My classmates’ even had the opportunity to (respectfully) challenge one another in their assessments of my paper with instantaneous—and sometimes inaudible—feedback. It was a wonderful environment of interactive learning, and it all took place in a traditional physical classroom.
Now, this may seem to contradict what I said in my recent blog post regarding the magnificent opportunities that technology can provide, sometimes replacing face-to-face interaction. In fact, I specifically mentioned the practice of peer review, or, as we call it in my creative writing class, workshopping. So, yesterday I suggested Google Docs as a preferred format for peer review, and today I am suggesting that there is no replacement for the traditional method. And I am not going to retract either statement.
Teaching is, and always has been, the art of not only knowing the material, but how to teach a particular lesson in a particular situation. There is a time and a place for technology in the classroom. There is also a time and a place for physical interaction. There are benefits to both, and I believe it is absolutely necessary that teachers and students remember this.