I don’t actively teach in a classroom, so I’m going to apply what I’ve learned to what I can teach my children about interacting in the classroom. I’d like for them to be able to formulate intelligent opinions and then be able to back them up with supporting information. They should be comfortable expressing ideas that may be contrary to the views of those around them without things melting into a name calling fest.
The best example of moving commenting into real life practice is from a talk that I attended that was given by Dr. Yolanda Smith. Her talk was on using African American spirituals as a source for teaching faith and heritage. During her talk, Dr. Smith offered a suggestion for teaching classes using the traditional “call and response” method of singing that is prevalent in African American churches. In many ways, this is what we are trying to create through commenting on blogs and sharing in the classroom. Instead of setting up the blogger as the end and be all of knowledge, commenting puts the blogger and the readers (or the teacher and the students) on an equal plane where they learn from each other by interacting with each other.
When I used to help students at my previous place of employment, I used to try to make it clear to them that I stood to learn as much from them as they stood to learn from me. Because their major may have been biology while mine was history, I was not an expert in their databases, but I knew how to use them. So I would help the students but I would also take notes and ask them to share things with me as they learned or found out information. This created a collaborative environment where the students trusted me not to talk down to them but to see them as my peers. And, ultimately, it gave the students a sense of control over their own learning.