Monday, August 19, 2013

The Action and Academic Dimensions

I also enjoyed reading about Reimers' three "A"s of global competency – the affective, action, and academic dimensions. I believe they all are equally important in the course of a students' education, and I, like Sam, was similarly struck by how difficult that action dimension can be in an English class sometimes. I think this sense of difficulty stems somewhat from what exactly we mean by action and how the action dimension can sometimes be at odds with the academic dimension. 

What would the action dimension look like in an English class? Would action look like creating a blog or sharing research with friends or family? Or would the action have to be a very public event like organizing a fundraiser or protest or petition? Do the students' actions need to be highly visible and have concretely measureable outcomes?

I'm also curious about how teachers may balance the competition for class time between the action dimension and the academic dimension. I am a strong believer in developing students' sense of agency in the world, and at the same time I hesitate to connect everything we read to global issues. Sometimes I want my students to learn what makes a piece of literature great, or to practice the art of writing a sonnet simply for the beauty of its rhythm and structure. Sometimes I want my students to experience literature as an inward journey rather than an outward one. Sometimes I want them to experience literature as a form of escape or entertainment. Hopefully these objectives wouldn't be diminished in value or discarded entirely, as these objectives are also important in developing a student's sense of wonder.


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