Summary of “I’ll Have to Help Some of You More Than I Want To”

From College Knowledge, 2002


            According to Christian Zawodniak in “I’ll Have to Help Some of You More Than I Want To,” teachers and students need to share the power in the classroom in order to get intellectual work done. Zawodniak uses his experience with an English teacher named Jeff to support his argument. The author’s first impressions of the course and the teacher created more questions than answers because the syllabus was vague, and Jeff’s first day comments seemed radical, unlike anything the author expected. Nonetheless, he did like Jeff’s style and his pedagogy, which was to “interfere as little as possible with class activities” (16). Jeff’s pedagogy, however, did not work with the class for which the theme was personal essays. Jeff gave little input or direction but had certain expectations as he judged what students wrote. There was a contradiction in Jeff’s style in that he was sometimes rigid, which intimidated students, shutting down their internal voices. On the other hand, he was very laid back, casual and familiar with the students.


          Eventually Zawodniak found himself sympathizing with Jeff; he liked him a lot, and for personal reasons, he himself had been caught up in Jeff’s ideas. Through later instructors and experiences, Zawodniak became convinced that it is destructive to shut down students’ voices with a heavy emphasis on rules. Instead, it is the teacher’s role to help students develop their own voices; teachers and students need to work and discuss together and strive for mutual involvement in the educations process.