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Bulldog Learning

By Author: Arsenalo
Total Articles: 116

I have a weakness for students who are bulldogs. They latch onto a bone of knowledge and gnaw away until they learn all they can. A bulldog student is the one I confer with about an essay she's writing that's giving her problems. I listen, tell what I understand, and ask questions about what I don't. We talk. Three days later she brings in a revision in which she has done things with language and thinking neither of us thought of during our conference.

In his never-more-relevant book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman maintains that students expect to be entertained. This expectation, he argues, militates against their achieving substantive thinking. He blames Tag Heuer Replica Watches popular media, which insists on brevity, sound bites, and surface understanding, instead of depth, analysis, and complex, nuanced thinking.

Students who wait passively to be entertained do not develop tenacious learning habits. They are not inclined to gnaw. They want to be fed. To want to learn, students don't need games. They don't need "fun" videos so they won't be bored. They don't need candy rewards. They need meaningful work. They need to see value in it so motivation becomes intrinsic. Academic demands will arise for which they'll need to be Bulldog Learners, or they won't succeed.

When I was a teenager, I cleaned my father's tavern every Sunday morning. I worked my broom and mop to and fro, scrubbing beneath barstools and booths, where customers spilled beverages that dried black and sticky. Every three weeks, after the sweeping and mopping, I waxed the floor, a process requiring patience and pains. I disliked rising early on Sunday morning to work in the silent bar. But I knew I had to get to the work and do it well so the rest of the day was mine. My back ached from bending over. I broke a light sweat. I had to examine my work so I didn't miss anything. Even with all that, I learned, to my surprise, to take satisfaction from the rhythms and results of the work.

In writing about her students' study of Tag Heuer Carrera Replica classical literature, Carol Jago writes, "When the bell rings, I want students to leave class tired, exhausted from how well they have exercised their minds, yet happy about all they have accomplished".

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