Dave Lanovaz's comment got me thinking about my target audience and my ingrained prejudices. Ok, maybe my ingrained assumptions, hopes, expectations, dreams, etc.
I'm creating my history website and I started thinking about my target audience. When I'm creating this website, what level of class am I aiming for? Should I create this for the university level crowd (my inner scholar cries of course) and include enough resources that something will fulfill the needs of my college level class?
I'm considering questions on reward systems and I'm quite challenged. Why, because my list of ingrained assumptions is based on the belief that these students want to be there and have a natural inclination towards engagement in whatever class I'm teaching. Based on facing an engaged class, of course I start to question why I need to consider this.
I thought that I had removed this bias ... instead, I had just nudged it out of site. I want to believe that each of my classes can be an academic class. Not that I'm going to stand up and push the students beyond their capabilities, but that I'll be able to help them recognize the value of the material to such a degree that they'll have a university level of engagement.
On a subject material basis, I gained this understanding ... my own understanding. I saw the workplace 12 math material, and I was able to recognize its critical importance to those students' lives. These students need to learn how to budget money, measure a wall, make change ... ie learn the math that will help them live better lives and cope with day to day math. It took me a while to get there, but I got past some of my academic snobbery regarding material. For some reason, it's far easier for me to deal with subject matter issues than it is to bring myself to believe that not every student will share my joy of learning.
Well, I've identified what I consider to be a problem area - where is the balancing point? How do I select appropriate resources for an applied level class without selling them short? How do I ensure that I don't dive too quickly into a reward / punishment scheme to increase engagement without having fully explored my attempts at engagement through my lesson presentation. My guess is that this is one of those questions that you can only answer through experience. But, I really wish that I could know ahead of time.