Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I'm grading a quiz. It is the sort of quiz I like to give (insofar as I like to give quizzes at all). The students had read a piece by Hans Ko hn, another by Liah Green feld, and another by Eric Hobs bawm in a chapter called "Nationalism in Europe" (in the Oxford U Press book called "Nationalism).

Question 1: Explain Ko hn.
Question 2: Explain Green feld.
Question 3: Explain Hobs bawm.
Question 4: What do you NOT understand? (be specific)

[I have monkeyed with the authors' names to avoid googling, if possible]

I lurrrrve big open questions like that. It gives the students room to move around. It also keeps them on their toes and makes them think (I reckon) and be less sure of themselves. By the same token, it is clear to them that they needn't worry so much about a "right" answer, as I've made it clear I'm no big fan of the concept.

One result of this quiz is that many of the students I *thought* had things more or less together have overthought and talked about everything BUT the points of the pieces. Several students who normally give off a vibe of not getting it, however, have NAILED this. I imagine they thought "I really don't understand what's going on here. All I see is THIS." And of course, the THIS they picked was exactly the point of the piece! (forrest/trees thing, I think).

I hear, as I blog, "On Green Dolphin Street" by Chick Corea, follwed by "Diamonds and Pearls" by Prince and the NPG.


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