i The Freedom in College | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Bridget Leen

Through out our lives, we are told what to do. When we are little our parents told us what to eat, what to wear, when to go to bed, and much more. As we get older we get a little more freedom. When we get to college we have the freedom to do what we want. There are no parents telling us what to do or when to go to bed or what to eat. We are on our own. The decisions that we make are up to us. As students, we decide if we want to go to class that day. We have to choice to do our homework. As a college student we have more freedom than we’ve ever had before. We have freedom from our parents, but we should also have some freedom from our teachers. Students should have full creative control over their school work. The teachers should not decide how the students should do their projects. Everyone should be able to put their own creative twist on their project. Teachers should not just throw away rubrics completely, but not make them so intense. The rubrics should just be guide lines to the project and not saying exactly what to do to get an ‘A’.

In college students make their own decisions. They have the choice to go to class. So they should be able to be creative on projects. The professor should have rubrics that are not pages long. The rubrics should just have the main points of the project or paper and that is it. This gives the students the opportunity to think on their own. A classmate of my mine, Zach, introduced a bad experience of his involving a bad experience with a rubric he had.  He felt his teacher gave to much direction and not enough room for creativity: “My senior year I had a physics teacher who helicoptered all of their students. The rubrics that he handed out basically said exactly what to do. Obviously, it was very easy for me to RECEIVE an A, but I was angry because I did not feel that I EARNED the A.”  Everyone has had an experience with a teacher that is always in the student’s business.  The teacher does not let the student think on their own.  The teacher can be known as a “helicopter” teacher.  Steven Conn wrote The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher, and in this article he argues that students who have “helicopter” teachers don’t learn as much as student whose teachers don’t hover: “And then there is the spoon-feeding. The student who asked me for a rubric did so because she gets them in all her other classes, and has gotten them during her entire school career.” I love that he uses the words “spoon-feeding” because it gives a great visual. The “helicopter” teachers give their students everything that they need, so it would be like “spoon-feeding” a baby. The baby gets the food with the help of the parents. The students get the easy ‘A’ from the teacher.  Students do not learn from helicopter teachers.

Over all I do not like the idea of a helicopter teacher, but in some ways it is it could be a good method. For example, if a student is really struggling in a class and the teacher is hovering this might help that student in the short run in that class. With saying that, this student might not learn anything on their own because the teacher is doing the work for them. The student that is struggling might be happy at that point in time, but if or when the material comes up again the student will not know it because of the helicopter teacher. When teachers hover all the time the students will not learn anything. Most likely with hovering teachers they do not give much room for the students to have creative point of views. Altogether, helicopter teachers are not beneficial for students.

The best projects are the ones that allow students to be creative. If the teacher is saying what a student should and should not do, the student will not learn anything from this. It is good to be able to put a creative twist on a project. This way everyone knows that it is that student’s idea. My classmate Isabel gave the class insight on how she did not have control over her creativity in one of her classes: “She was all about creating similar art to your peers and having all final projects resemble one another. I wanted to have the ability to put my own twist on my projects and express myself in a creative way. The intense guidelines to follow a step by step process eliminated the space for imagination and self-expression”. She gives the class information saying that her teacher wanted all of the students’ artwork to be the same. In an art class, students should be able to show their creative side. Art is about expressing one’s self, so having that opportunity taken away is not the best sign of teaching. As an art teacher, she should let the children express themselves in any way they want, just as long as it is within the guidelines of the project. This should not just be in an art class. When a teacher gives a long rubric, they are saying this is how you get an A if you follow these exact steps. This does not give students the opportunity to have creativity in their projects. They do not have the freedom they should have.

In college, we have the freedom we never had before. But when it comes to projects, we might not have the freedom we want. The teachers sometimes give rubrics that we have to follow to get a good grade, but is the good grade really worth it if the student cannot express their creative side? I personally think that a student should be able to express themselves with out getting points taken off of their project. We have the freedom to choose to go to class, so we should have the freedom to have full creativity over our projects.

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