Why Do I Teach?

Education is a gift and a privilege that should be shared with the world. I believe that everyone can utilize education as a resource to suit their specific needs, supplementing and amplifying realworld experience in order to advance their knowledge and accomplish their ambitions.

We stand at the edge of a precipice. In a world deeply intertwined by the web, information has become more readily accessible. Connecting yourself to ideas, researching new developments, becoming a recognized critical voice, and adding that voice to an ever changing discussion is essential as students and as educators.

I believe that people can gain more from giving that from taking. I have learned that education is a gift that needs to be valued by students. In order to be truly valued, this gift must be built around the needs of the student rather than the ideals and standards of the University.

I wish to sell ideas and knowledge. I do my best to present information in a way that suits my audience. One hour class at a time, I captivate and relate in order to establish and manage student goals. My profits will not be measured by dollars and cents, but rather accomplishments and comprehension. I teach because students deserve the opportunity to have access to knowledge. I teach because I believe the search for knowledge is never ending. And I teach because I have the power to give others the keys to the world.

What’s it all about?

Photo_ideas_water_drop_photography_DCM121.feature.getty_89853115 I believe that ideas have power. These ideas are shaped through our words. The form that we choose to utilize our message is within our control. The mediums which we choose to communicate our message, our form and our ideas are ever changing. Learning to communicate through these changing mediums is essential in order to make an impact upon the future. I live to learn and I learn to live. My love of knowledge is an endless thirst. And though I may wander the desert for eternity in search of my oasis, I will savor every drop of water that takes me one step closer to my fountain of truth.

Why Not?

College was not quite on my mind after high school and I wasn’t sure if I ever want it to go. This began to change in the spring of 2007 when I became interested in film production. Well a good friend of mine who was going to school at UCLA,  knew a guy who was working on his film thesis. I got in contact with this guy, and I was brought on board as a production assistant/grip. Following the completion of this project and I began to work on other film productions, commercials, and music videos that summer.

I was very fascinated with this art and really enjoyed working with these creative people but then I realized why am I not a student and I should go back to college and study film production. The people I worked with, highly encouraged me to go to college and study film production and just go to college. Driving home was my reflection time and I had to find something to stay amused while stuck in traffic bumper to bumper on the four-o-five (LA traffic). Those long hours stuck in traffic led to the big questions: Why not? Why not get an education? I thought about going to college over and over (thinking about film school). Then I realized I didn’t have to have a set of vocational goals. My biggest fear was taking classes that I’m was not interested in (GE classes) and writing papers. Also, I didn’t really know how to write a solid college level essay and I found writing very stressful. But I knew writing was essential if I want it to explore my ideas and write scripts.

August rolls around and I find myself seating in Dr.Magee’s English 59 class at Fullerton College. I’m sitting there thinking what am I doing here. I should skip this class and just go to my film classes. Before I could do that, Dr. Magee begins to talk about how everyone leaves his classes loving the art of writing and no one in his classes ever failed. Well this was a good start and, I stayed in the class. I wrote my first paper and I recall thinking how awful that paper was. I get my paper back, Dr. Magee gave me feedback and said I should see him if I needed the extra help. I reluctantly go to his office hours to get the help I needed writing my papers. After completing my first year of college, I realized how much Dr. Magee and other professors helped succeed academically. The following year I enrolled in all GE classes (including English 101 and a literature class) and I didn’t take any film classes. After many visits to the writing center and to Dr. Magee’s office, I began to ponder why not study literature instead of film. Two semesters ago I couldn’t even wrap the idea of me pursuing a degree in literature or even going into teaching. After reflecting and thinking that working in the film industry is not as rewarding as being a teacher and helping others achieve their academic goals. I decided to pursue a career in teaching. This was the turning point in my educational career and I came to the realization that education something I enjoy and it’s a great experience.

I transferred to Chico in the fall of 2009 and I graduated in the spring of 2011. After spending four long years in college, you can imagine my relief and happiness of finishing school forever. I moved back to Los Angeles and worked as a substitute teacher and as an after school film teacher at a middle school (Film club). Working in K-12 classroom settings was a very rewarding experience. Teaching was very exciting but I miss being a student and I knew I needed to get a teaching credential. Well I thought why not go to grad school and become more knowledgeable about my subject. Then in the fall of 2013, I am back at Chico State as a grad student. Being here is very exciting to me and I’m very grateful that I got this opportunity to continue my education and keep growing as a scholar. I’m excited to be here and looking forward to completing this program and becoming an inspiring teacher and keep living the dream.


Why (oh why) teach?

The question of the hour, dear reader, is why teach? And as someone in the middle of grading a stack of papers while trying to finish their thesis, my first reaction is to say “good [expletive redacted] question!” But after a moment of cooler contemplation, I feel like I can offer up an answer of sufficient insight and, hopefully, readability.

I teach for selfish reasons.

I teach because of the overwhelming feeling of fulfillment that comes over me when I see a student do something they had not previously been able to do. This moment is what makes it all worth while, the moment when you can see irrefutable proof that you are actually doing something, and helping someone to do things of their own. It would be easy to frame this as an altruistic motivation, but I think that would be taking something away from the true feeling of the matter. While there is certainly an altruistic element to it, I like to think I would help others even if it didn’t make me feel good, one should not ignore the sheer magnitude of gratification that comes along with helping someone to reach an “Aha!” moment. Rather than frame the teacher as a saint, tempting as that may be, I instead posit the idea of benevolent self interest. If you can make a career out of helping people and feeling good about yourself, that can’t be too bad…

I teach because of my love for learning. I’m the kind of fellow who, when at a loose end, will go on a wikipedia binge and read everything I can find on the history of Norway as an independent country. Spoiler alert, they had to fight Denmark, like, a million times. I once spent the hours between midnight and two AM learning everything I could about the Blakiston’s Fish Owl (who walks from place to place so much that he trudges out a trail in the snow from his nest to the river where he hunts by jumping on fish) and, by way of geological association, the Russo-Japanese war of 1904. The point of all this is that one major fringe benefit of teaching freshman composition, is getting to study vicariously through my students, and learn about 30 weird new things with every new stack of papers.

I teach because it forces me to improve constantly. There is a point in the pursuit of any skill where you feel like you have achieved some fraction of mastery, like you really know what you’re doing. And then you try to teach someone. Suddenly they are asking you all the “why” questions for things that you do naturally, and you are forced to go back and think, why do I do it that way? Is there really a benefit or necessity in that? This can be a frightening moment, but it is also the moment where your mastery truly deepens, as you begin -out of necessity- to develop the rationale and theory behind your actions. You might know intrinsically to make a certain action in a certain situation, but teaching will force you to develop the understand of why that situation requires that specific action, and what it is about those elements that allows them to work together in such a profitable way. The old adage goes, “if you can’t do, teach” but I would reject that in favor of “If you’re not teaching, you’re not doing.” True mastery is not just the ability to perform, it is the ability to bring others up to your level, to have a deep and constantly evolving understanding of performance that you can pass on to future generations.

Finally, I teach because I’m not spiritual. You’d never get me to call myself an exi-staaaahn-tialist, but I feel the gnawing pressure of the void as much as the next 20th century French novelist. Teaching is a way of finding meaning and purpose in a world that can just as easily be empty and meaningless. I may not have a spiritual overlord to give my life purpose, but I can find some meaning in doing whatever small things I can to make the world a better place for those that will walk its surface when I am gone. I am not saying that being taught by me makes someone’s life better (although of course it must), but I do hope that I can have some small impact in developing a students sensitivity and awareness, perhaps effecting a sort of grass roots movement of change by doing so. That last sentence is incredibly pompous, but I do believe that the only way to change the world is to change the way people think about the world. You can occupy wall street until the cows come home, but until people decide of their own volition that some things are more important than net profits, there will be no change. Hopefully through providing a space and an opportunity to think, to develop awareness and sensitivity to the world, I can also provide a space to encourage a change in individual thought that might, eventually help move our society towards a change in values. And hey, it beats going to church.

Tuesday, September 23: Group B

Today’s quote was beyond perfect. After taking way too long to draft my previous post (my first real attempt at analyzing my notes so that I will eventually have something to write for this thesis thing), it is very important for me to remember both why I started and why I need to keep pushing towards this transformation. If I want a productive writing life, I have to make it happen. So thank you, Pinterest, for the lovely quote found below.

I would also like to point out that a dance class takes place next door to this classroom and 50s swing music blaring in the background is beyond distracting to listen to while attempting to transcribe.
It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you implement that effort into your life…every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs. Keep going. Remember why you started.
In this class, it has become a norm for students to pull up anything they may need help with each day on the teacher’s computer as they walk through the door. This way, the mentor can skip the “what’s everybody working on” portion of the class period and get right to the workshop part of the class.

Today, Students B and C each had drafts of a paper to workshop so the Mentor split the class in to two groups:

Mentor Intern
Student A Student B Student C Student E
Student D Student F

I will focus the content of this post on the Mentor’s group for two reasons: first, I know that this is this Mentor’s first attempt at workshopping in this way and second, I was simply closest to this group.

After straightening out a few kinks with the Google Docs and Internet connections (and Students C, E, and F teaching the Intern how to log in Google Docs on a borrowed iPad–another cool example of students taking on expert roles and teaching something new to the Mentor/Intern), the Mentor allowed the students to divide themselves in to groups. Student C chose to work with the Intern and Student B chose to work with the Mentor. The other students simply divided themselves accordingly.

Before allowing his small group to begin reading the draft, the Mentor asked Student B to explain the assignment:

Mentor: “So, [Student B], let’s–let’s tell us, um, where you’re at with this and then what we can do for you.”
Student B: “So, basically you have to include two authors in your quotes so I can’t compare and contrast. So I did one author that I agree with, one author that I know that I can compare and contrast with [....] I need like evidence, like, some like stats from, like, outside resources.”

By asking Student B to explain what he needs help on in this assignment, the Mentor has both determined Student B’s understanding of the assignment and allowed the student to direct his peers to points in his writing that he feels are weak. This simple gesture gives Student B authority over both his writing and his practice as a student and a writer. It also allows the Mentor to step back from his usual role as the “more experienced peer.” In all honesty, the Mentor has no way of knowing what the assignment is asking and where the Student feels he needs the most help. This seems obvious, but, in my experience, it is almost instinctual for less experienced mentors to lead all discussions in the space.

In an interesting move, the Mentor then re-asked the same question of the Student and received a surprisingly generic response:

Student B: “Am I, like, going in the right path?”

Mentor: “Ok, so he wants to know basically, then, is he doing a good job making the argument? [....] So let’s read this and let’s see if, one, we can follow what he’s writing, and, two, if, by the end of what he’s written, we know what his argument is.”

This vague response is in direct contrast to his previous statement in which he points out a very specific gap in his research: statistics to support his claim and then the Mentor restates the student’s response to the group. This move effectively put the Mentor back in charge of the discussion and I am not confident that this was the Mentor’s intention. I imagine his intention was to ensure clarity. A minor bump in communication, but interesting nonetheless.

After giving the group time to read the draft, the Mentor asked for feedback and diligently typed all of the students’ comments as they came up. This is another move that puts the Mentor in charge. Instead of asking the students to type their own comments in the margins, the Mentor unconsciously inserts his own language into each student’s verbal comment as he writes.

While the other mentor began the discussion portion of the class by asking students for positive feedback, this Mentor began the discussion by asking students to explain Student B’s argument:

Mentor: “So, after reading, let’s start with the basics: what’s his argument?”

The first student to comment (Student A) instantly mentioned a surface level error. The Mentor responded by stressing the importance of looking at content before worrying about surface level errors and, to appease that student, was careful to leave time at the end of class to allow students to fix those distracting surface level errors.

The students had little to say about the content of the draft so the Mentor asked each of them to try researching to help Student B to find an additional source or two. The Mentor offered what we call a “Pro Tip” to his students by explaining his personal method for finding sources online. He suggested opening multiple windows in Google and using different search terms:

Mentor: “violent tv shows,” “violent tv shows benefits,” “violent tv shows helpful”

The students were instructed to copy and paste any relevant sources they found into a Google Doc and given minutes to search through Google. This is something that I also practice in my 30 space. I’ve found (and I think the Mentor found) that it encourages students to bring in their work at all stages of the writing process. Every stage is important and every stage has its own set of challenges.

A trap that many new mentors fall in to is to be too specific about the kinds of writing are allowed to be brought in for a workshop. This Mentor is experienced enough that he has been able to stress how difficult writing is at every stage of the process and small moments like this one can help students still feel secure in the moments when they are stuck. Everyone gets stuck and, in English 30 spaces, there is a team of people who are more than willing to help. That is one of my absolute favorite parts about English 30. The communities that get built in these small spaces have the opportunity to give students a confidence that they often lack in their skills as writers and readers and students in the university.
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.” – Robert Cormier

Monday, September 22

I would like to preface this post by stating the obvious: transcribing is difficult and time consuming and not my favorite thing on earth. But by the end of this semester (hell, by the end of this week), I’m gonna be really good at it. Practice makes perfect, right?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like, jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair-can’t-control-yourself-love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is “You like stuff.” Which is not a good insult at all. Like, “You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.”” – John Green
Intern 2 Student 9
Intern 1 Student 10
Student 3 Student 8
Student 4 Student 7
Student 2 Student 5
Student 1
As the class period began and students began to quiet down, the Mentor initially addressed the class by announcing that he was having a terrible morning.

Mentor: “I lost my keys, and then, like, I burned my eggs, and then, I was just like, Jesus, what is going on? The 49ers lost again, so I was just like, my world is crashing down around me right now! And that professor we were talking about? On Wednesday? That I don’t care for, I have him tonight so it’s just like, this whole concoction of shittiness (shittyness? shitty-ness?) going on in my life right now that’s kind of….but it’s alright, we’re gonna get through.”

The nine students present looked concerned and the Mentor stopped being the “Teacher” and instantly became a human being, a fellow student who is struggling his way through college. For a moment, the Mentor was so frazzled that he couldn’t remember the prompt for the quick write, but, luckily, it came to him.

Mentor: “So, yeah, um, two part question: you can either write about what your strengths and weaknesses are with regards to writing or you can kinda tell me about your practice. Like, as a–as a student writer. Like how you go about–like, when you have an essay, what’s the first thing you do?”

After giving the students the two possible quick write prompts, the Mentor immediately gave the students an example of how he might respond to the quick writes:

Mentor: “Like for example, like, my weakness is, like, I hate revising. Like, especially with poetry. If I ever have to revise a poem, I just, like, say, ‘oh, it’s not good enough,’ and I just write a new poem. Cuz I don’t wanna revise it, so, I hate revising.”

This is a practice that is very familiar to this mentor and I due to the fact that we are graduate students in the same program. Many professors here are in the habit of using themselves as examples when explaining an assignment like a quick write or blog post.

The students wrote diligently for about 4 minutes. Students 2, 3, 4, and 8 were the first to stop, but the Mentor did not notice until both Intern 1 and 2 stopped writing after 5 minutes. He was busy writing and, at one point, took out his iPhone. In this moment, without his knowledge, his students stopped looking at him as the authority figure or leader in the classroom and this was immediately reflected in their silence when asked to share what they wrote.

As a countermeasure, the Mentor used the age old threat to “call on a random student” and, after less than ten seconds of silence (with students carefully looking everywhere but at the Mentor or Interns), the Mentor called on Student 8. Luckily, Student 8 is not a shy soul (probably why the Mentor felt comfortable choosing him) and immediately responded with a smile.

Student 8: “Um, so basically, I hate revising. Because, um, when I’m revising someone else’s paper, I feel like, if I write something down, they won’t like me cuz, like, I write something bad–I don’t know. I feel like I might mess someone’s paper up”

Although the class had moved on, I was stuck on Student 8’s frank statement:

“when I’m revising someone else’s paper, I feel like, if I write something down, they won’t like me cuz, like, I write something bad–I don’t know. I feel like I might mess someone’s paper up”

First of all, I find it fascinating that Student 8 bent his understanding of the word “revision” to include “peer review” since “peer review” wasn’t a term used in the Mentor’s description of the prompt. He is using the same word as the Mentor, but his understanding of the word includes what the Mentor would most likely refer to as peer review. I have no idea what that means, but it’s so interesting.

Second, it seems to me that this feeling of “mess[ing] someone’s paper up” is a sort of residual effect from peer review in high school. It is a feeling that I have come across many times in my past four semesters as an English 30 mentor. So many students are fearful of coming across as “mean” to their peers and are therefore intimidated by those students who are not afraid to offer constructive criticism.

So, I guess my question becomes: how do we alleviate that fear? In my 30 space, it feels absolutely critical to have a conversation about how we will conduct peer review in the space and that conversation stems from each student’s previous experiences with the practice. Many have admitted that their previous teachers (or current English 130 professors) use rubrics to facilitate peer review and do not collect these rubrics, so students are not held accountable for their work. Also, students are forced to print copies of their paper/narrative/memo/etc. but their peers do not write on the copies. They simply read them and write notes on the rubric.

To my surprise, that conversation didn’t happen when I expected it to. Granted, the students have already begun the process of peer review within the space and a few (Students 1, 2, and 4) seem to have little concern with offering constructive criticism to a peer’s work; however, Student 8 made it clear that he still feels that fear and, ironically, it was his day to bring in a piece of writing to workshop.

Using his background as a creative writing student, the Mentor asked the students to begin their discussion with positive comments after they had silently read Student 8’s paper in a shared Google Doc. Positive comments included compliments on his topic, his skill at including quotes to support his argument, his inclusion of the opposing argument, etc.

When asked how the paper could be strengthened, Student 7 dropped in the term “code-switching.”

Student 7: “Code-switching is basically knowing when and how to speak and to who [.....] It’s basically saying, like, how I talk to my roommate or how I talk to my fellow peers, I wouldn’t talk to my boss like that. Or I wouldn’t talk to a professor like that.”

This was possibly one of my favorite moments from this class period because a student who had hardly spoken (she is usually very vocal in class) had the opportunity to demonstrate her expertise in a subject that the Mentor and Interns were unfamiliar. Not only did the Mentor acknowledge her expertise by asking her to explain what the term meant, but she also was able to help her peer further his understanding of his topic and give him an opportunity to expand his argument. It was a pretty cool moment to witness the Mentor relinquishing the reins as the “teacher” or the “more experienced peer” and giving that power to his student.
Learn to love the process.

Why Higher Ed?

In 2012 I was preparing to graduate from college at the age of 23 after five changes of major and one ill-considered effort to transfer universities that I thankfully decided against at the last minute. When people ask me about this, normally I answer with a smile and a practiced statement about how changing majors so many times gave me the opportunity to experience all the trajectories that I might have been interested in pursuing before I began my degree in English Education. But the truth is that at the time, I still felt a significant amount of confusion surrounding “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” In the five years that I had been in college, I had watched all my friends struggle, grow, mature, and leave me behind as they finished school and relocated to different areas or jobs in their field, while I was still mired in the mud that is choosing a vocation. But as the theme of this weeks connected course will surely highlight, these questions were all firmly planted in the what — What do I want to be? What job do I want? What should I do? What’s the next step? Were all questions that swirled in my head on a delightful daily basis.

Ironically, it wasn’t until after I applied to grad school that I started asking myself “why”. Even that came as a happy accident. When I finally started working to get my degree in English Ed, my entire attitude towards school took a very visceral shift. I wanted to go to school. I was excited about my teachers and my budding experience as a writing mentor, and this was reflected in my GPA. After finishing college I decided against applying to a credential program since I had decided that what I wanted to be was not a high school teacher. Based on the rumors I’d heard about people not ordinarily getting denied to grad school and the fact that I worked with/for many of the people who granted admission I figured I’d be fine.

I applied to several grad schools and got accepted to them all except for the only one that I actually wanted to go to — CSU Chico, my alma mater and place where I thought I had the best chance. I remember not even thinking twice when I friend told me that the committee had only denied one application that semester, because it was such an alien and ludicrous thought at the time to believe that one application was mine. It wasn’t until several days later when my inconsiderate roommate came home and brought me a letter from the school that I learned otherwise. He handed me the letter with a glib smile and told me that “it feels pretty light to be an acceptance letter” as he chuckled over his shoulder. But he was right. It was a rejection letter that thanked me for my application, but suggested that I reapply later or elsewhere. This was four days before my graduation ceremony, and once more I found myself back in the mud surrounded by what questions. What should I do now? What can I do? What did I do wrong? What do I want?

I found it impossible to sleep from that day forward so I spent my nights trying to figure out how or if I even wanted to circumvent the decision, and I spent my days trying find someone to help or advise me. Unfortunately I suddenly found myself walled off or stonewalled from all the people I had come to rely on for support or advice and told repeatedly that there was a protocol for how these things work, and that this protocol had to be followed. This protocol stated that I had to talk to the coordinator, who told me that I had to present new evidence for why this decision should be reconsidered or overturned. This left me back at square one as person after person told me they couldn’t or wouldn’t be my sponsor in this appeals process — as these people, all of whom I I had come to respect, idolize, model myself after, and aspire to be like one day, turned me away I began to grow bitter and irate. Luckily one person agreed to meet with me (even though I don’t think they were technically supposed to) and in the midst of my juvenile effusion about the whole ordeal, he asked me two questions that I’ll never forget.

The first question he asked after listening to me explain the situation when we first met. He sat there kindly and patiently until I was done and told me that it was clear that I could articulate the reasons that my rejection letter had laid out for my rejection, but asked me why I thought they hadn’t accepted my application. “Based on the criteria given, you meet all the stipulations for this program but you didn’t get in. Why do you think that is” he asked.  The second question he posed as an interruption to one of my overwhelmed rants about the protocol for appeal: “So why do you want to go to Grad school then?”

It took me a couple of days before I could start to answer these questions. Why grad school? Why here? Why didn’t I get in? One day we were going over yet another draft of my letter for appeal, trying to eloquently write the reasons why I should be reconsidered before I could actually articulate them myself when finally I just blurted out “Because I can fucking do this! Helping students do college writing makes me happier than anything else I’ve ever done, and I want to dedicate my life to it.” He just smiled a small smile and turned back to the letter. Later that night, I recounted the story to my friend of seven years and I noticed the same small smile that I had seen earlier creep across his lips as I finished the tale. He said I seemed different somehow now, and that he couldn’t help but smile as he thought about the kind of teacher I would turn out to be after I got accepted. He said the people who had ruled against me were probably right to do so but even they hadn’t witnessed the effect it was having on me. “You know your path now, but nobody said it was going to be easy.” Only your best friend is really allowed to tell you things like quit your complaining or get out of your own way doofus, but when they do it seems to have such a magnified effect, and it did. I spent the entirety of that summer writing, rewriting, and revising that that letter of appeal and showing it to anyone and everyone who could or would give me feedback. That same faculty member wrote a recommendation letter for me as did another person who had first made me realize my interest in teaching several years prior. Augmented by these letters, my appeal was accepted and I was admitted into the program which I am now preparing to graduate from this coming spring.

But in retrospection, that cavalier kid wasn’t ready for grad school and there’s no way anyone should have let me in if that’s the kind of student I would have continued to be. That rejection forced me out of the what and into the why. And today I have no trouble answering the question of why I am in grad school: Everyday I get to wake up and do the thing I love most — the thing that makes me happier than anything else, and I get to become just a little bit better at it each day. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Why We Need a Why?.. My Why is Why Teach?

The idea of critical thinking and teaching to critically think is perhaps the most essential part about teaching, in my perspective. It is one thing to teach to memorize or complete an assignment, but to help and teach someone how to look at and work at transforming how they process and develop thought is essential to over all success of actual learning and achieving. This action of teaching to think critically is sculpting their  (the students) ability to take knowledge and use it for something more then regurgitation. That said the other essential part to teaching critical thinking is making it relevant to the individual and the community as a whole. If what is being taught is not meaningful or relevant to communities or the individuals with in the community it will be simply knowledge because they will not know how to develop the education. Nonetheless, on the opposite side the other essential part to teaching critical thinking is teaching students the basics, which at times can result in something that seems irrelevant to the individual or community, lying the ground work for the development of critical thinking is not always going to be able to address areas that are relevant to individuals or communities but rather help gain skills that they can then transfer over to what is relevant. For example if you are teaching the idea of symbolism there will be a point when you have to isolate this idea by itself to develop the student ability to understand what it is; then once the students understand this simple idea of symbolism they have now laid a ground work and are ready to start applying it in relevant ways. Therefore, perhaps part of the struggle in teaching this comes in helping students to understand that these are tools and that you must learn to use the individual tool before you can use all the tools together. In other words sometimes it is important to wrestle with individual concepts first and master their meaning use before they are applied to area of interest or relevancy.