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My personal belief is that the classroom can and should be a forum for free thinking and intellectual inquiry. Within its "four walls" exists the opportunity for students and instructor to weigh all ideas and methodologies. The instructor brings in academically accepted models and the students should challenge these models in order to see if they hold water; the competent instructor welcomes this process. It is within this learning dynamic that magnificent events can occur. The wisdom of the academe is tested in this way and the instructor proves his or her mettle by leading the class through a mutually respectful process of inquiry.
It is the instructor's role to facilitate the creation of the proper atmosphere in the classroom through offering powerful and honest guidance. The materials that an instructor uses should be of great quality and the result of careful forethought. Through using only the best support materials does an instructor do the students justice.
A classroom should be a safe and focused environment for all its members. There should be a time and place for silence and for euphoric moments alike. I am a great advocate of modeling - giving the students a sense of the form of things allows them to understand what may be considered "classic" or an archetype. From there they are able to develop further towards the creation of something completely original. Reaching all the students equally may not always be possible, yet it must be attempted every time when "having class."
Erik Kaarla is an educator with experience in teaching English and writing in a variety of environments including the University of Massachusetts, Pine Manor College, Burlington College, Community College of Vermont and Champlain College. He has also taught classes with a special focus towards Special Education and ELL students. Erik Kaarla enjoys literature, tennis, and playing the bass and the guitar.