Chapter 1: page 5

Premise #1. Everybody Learns Differently

Alfie Kohn, not surprisingly, is a big opponent of standardized testing practices, and actually all testing in general. The reason is simple: because a single test cannot test everybody’s abilities, and we are seeing more and more that the abilities that are valued by the dominant society often reward white privilege, households who spoke standard English, and other ways that testing not only undermines diversity in society, but also undermines the diversity of learning styles within various groups. Testing effectively encapsulates what is “wrong” with traditional schooling in our view.

To counter this trend, particularly in Writing Studies but also across the educational spectrum, teachers are being forced to confront the reality of what Howard Gardner calls “multiple intelligences” in the classroom. Building on Kohn’s assertion that students’ “purposes and interests” should inform the curriculum and classroom discussion, this textbook is also built on the premise that each reader has various skills, assets, and learning styles that may not have been rewarded or stimulated in various parts of your education. In addition to “linguistic intelligence,” Gardner also discussed “logical-mathematical intelligence, musical intelligence, spatial intelligence, and interpersonal intelligence,” among others. When we center our teaching and the learning process around students, we realize that we are all intelligent in all kinds of different ways.

Parallel Text Sets, Visual Texts

For this reason, in addition to interacting with the text through “Discussion Forums and Annotation Prompts,” we will embed videos at various points to explain a certain process in a different medium, what we call “Parallel Text Sets” that present “texts” in various forms; there will be various hyperlinks and references to other sources of information and opportunities to connect; we encourage you to annotate using to make sense of new information and perspectives, and add that information to your preexisting knowledge, which we call “building your schema,” which then helps you make connections to other texts and your own experiences.

For some of you, we also recommend writing notes by hand. While we value the online format of this text to make the knowledge, strategies, and activities accessible and dynamic, we also realize that reading on screen is not natural or easy for everybody. Even if you don’t want to print out the pages and annotate directly in the margins using a pen or pencil (which is how your authors learned to read in college), an intermediate step may be to take notes in a notebook on the side, write summaries of new information, or draw Mind Maps to organize your own reading and thinking process. (See Reading Strategies in the next section.)

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