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Telling War Stories Project
Pre-OPs/Unit Cohesion

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The third likely positive effect of this project on the cadets' understanding of and ability to write is how it will transform the dynamic of the academy itself. Concerning peer tutoring, Kenneth Bruffee (1999) wrote that "peer tutors can improve the overall quality of the undergraduate student body by fostering interdependence—social and intellectual maturity—in college and university students" (p. 110). The goal of Bruffee's book is not simply to change the students teachers will encounter or to improve upon a pedagogy perfect in its practice. Instead, Bruffee is hoping to revolutionize the face of education as we know it by creating programs more student-centered than teacher-centered:

Peer tutoring can quite simply make students more interesting to teach. Specifically, peer tutors can help colleges and universities bring about changes of four kinds: changes in human relations among students, among professors, and between students and professors; changes in classroom practice; changes in curriculum; and even (often the last domino to fall) changes in the prevailing understanding of the nature and authority of knowledge and the authority of teachers (p. 110).

By engaging them in the process of developing war stories written by the soldiers themselves, we will effectually enhance our cadets' ability to relate to their community forever.

In a like manner, instructors who involve themselves in collaborative projects like this will change, as they will be on the brink of the next step in Bruffee's plan. It will be difficult, as "most college professors have received little or no instruction in pedagogy. As a result, they tend to teach students the way they were taught, using lecture and lecture-discussion methods" (Cooper, 1992, p. 74). The temptation will be to leave things as they've always been and let students learn about writing the way they have for centuries. But can we so easily dismiss the benefits? Barbara Leigh Smith and Jean T. MacGregor (1992) warned us that "collaborative learning represents a radical departure from contemporary practices in postsecondary education" (p. 9). It's not the norm to allow students to take center stage, but if they are allowed to do so, then they will never be the same. Smith and MacGregor (1992) explained,

Collaborative learning holds enormous promise for improving student learning and revitalizing college teaching. It is a flexible and adaptable approach appropriate to any discipline. Nonetheless, teachers who adopt collaborative learning approaches find it challenging. They inevitably face fundamental questions about the purposes of their classes, teacher and student roles and responsibilities, the relationship between educational form and content, and the nature of knowledge itself. (p. 9)

Collaboration has it challenges, just as any change offers, but its benefits are so overwhelmingly positive that dismissing its practice just seems unethical.

Telling War Stories Project Pre-OPs/Unit Cohesion: Problematic Story-Telling – 5