I didn't like the sound of Hess's Surrealist theme when I began reading, but then I liked some of his assignments. I also realized Hess and I share some opinions on teaching. Hess seems different than some composition teachers. As teachers, we are quick to judge and dismiss what the students bring to our classes. "Didn't anyone teach them before they came to my class?" I think this feeling is prevalent for most teachers. He says that it is important to value what they bring to the classroom.
Also, he cares about how the students learn. His mention and concern of students' metacognitive awareness surprised me. It is easy for the assignment to become the focus instead of helping students to meet the requirement of the assignment rather than blindly expecting them to accomplish the task. He isn't just asking them to fulfill a writing assignment, but he asks them to think about their own process--do some metacognition--and to allow them to work together in a collborative environment. He really decentered the authority in that classroom by allowing the students to become the experts--the sources. By creating this student-centered classroom--this inquiry classroom--he models Friere.
I thought it was interesting that he modeled this student-centered classroom and really forced them to re-think their perspectives on research and then he included some assignments that didn't seem to match his previous goals. And the students noticed. It can be very easy when you get tired or you are not sure what to do in class to just throw some assignment in that isn't genuine--that doesn't have a real purpose. He had challenged their thinking so much and then he gave them the equivalent of some busy work and some of the students noticed.
I like the idea of a theme. I'm wondering what my theme should be. I don't know yet. Does anyone know if they will use a theme? If they do, what will it be?