Metaphor of the woven
blanket, that keeps everybody together-- Marie Theres LeRoux on teacher
expectations & student achievement in
by Kevin Stoda
Below is a selection from
"Stories About Teaching Overseas:
Educators Talk About Adjustment to
The article focuses on how foreign teaching staff adapt to
life and work in
"We had an on-line network where we were communicating with each other as well, because people don't see each other for six months. People were really making an effort to take care of each other, especially from a social and emotional kind of side. Academically, there was very little of substance going on. I found this a little bit disconcerting and disappointing. We could be exchanging a great amount of information that could help us with class studies, but I didn't see very much of that. What I did see was plenty of, 'Well how's the new baby?' And all of this, which really built this structure of caring between the people, but not much exploitation of the academic side.
"So, the episode that I would think of that was really interesting--we had differenet tutors coming in one by one, and the students would talk about, 'Well, how was the tutor?' And 'How do you find the work?' And for most of the students there, it's still their second language, they're really struggling with the materials, but they need a lot of meditation to actually come to grips with the materials.
"How their tutor would present their material was a very big factor for them. And then there were workshops and there were group assignments. And then there were long boring lectures; I just lap it up. And everybody else complained.
"The third (tutor) was luminary, and he told us that he'd
WHAT IS THE WOVEN BLANKET?
In one part of her interview with JonLee, Marie shares an insight into how Omani students expect a good community of students to function: For each person involved in the group or class, "[i]t's like you're part of this woven blanket, that keeps everybody together."
The first thing I think of when I hear the phrase "woven blanket, that keeps everybody together" is that this is a lot like "culture" in its purest sense. One definition of culture is "a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture." From a developmental point of view, we can perceive how a culture made up of Omani students behave at this time in history by looking at Marie's narration.
Another definition of culture is "the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular
social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture." In
reference to this second definition, we observe that "the
of a particular social,
ethnic, or age group" in Marie's narration of her graduate school experience in
(1) One does not read the material before the lecture.
(2) One does not use the on-line component of the class to primarily talk about academia but rather uses it to build an emotional and support network amongst peoples who might be quite isolated from one another.
(3) One expects the tutor or instructor to bend the course to fit the expectations of the students--not the other way around.
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