The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching
Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez
Chapter Thirteen: Lessons from My Family: Understanding College Teaching Through Cultural Introspection
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Lessons FROM My Family
Understanding College Teaching Through Cultural Introspection
ALICIA FEDELINA CHÁVEZ
Educational Leadership University of New Mexico
I’m not sure of the exact moment I realized college professors taught mostly in ways different from how I learn. Lecturing and multiple-choice tests in most of my courses led me to skip classes, study on my own, and show up only for exams. Because academics come naturally to me, this was not only possible, but I also found most classes confusing and distracting to my learning. Instead, I read widely and incessantly, wrote much on my own, and explored ideas with siblings, cousins, and friends. I became a student peer advisor in part so I could sign my own registration forms and in my senior year did independent study, research, and internships with professors from whom I wanted to learn.
I learn most naturally through applying things in real life, often through trial and error; through visual processes (including observing, reading, models, and images); through reflection; through stories, examples, and metaphor; and through comparing and contrasting my sense of things with others, usually one-on-one. Common lecture modes of teaching in college don’t engage my curiosity or match my natural ways of learning. In college I longed for deeper, more complex, engaged academic learning. Graduate school was somewhat better, yet even in small classes was made up primarily of lecture with...
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