Students can even be metacognitively prepared (and then prepare themselves) for the overarching learning experiences expected in specific contexts . Salvatori and Donahue’s The Elements (and Pleasures) of Difficulty (2004) encourages students to embrace difficult texts (and tasks) as part of deep learning, rather than an obstacle. Their “difficulty paper” assignment helps students reflect on and articulate the nature of the difficulty and work through their responses to it (p. 9). Similarly, in courses with sensitive subject matter, a different kind of learning occurs, one that involves complex emotional responses. In “ Learning from Their Own Learning: How Metacognitive and Meta-affective Reflections Enhance Learning in Race-Related Courses ” (Chick, Karis, & Kernahan, 2009), students were informed about the common reactions to learning about racial inequality (Helms, 1995; Adams, Bell, & Griffin, 1997; see student handout, Chick, Karis, & Kernahan, p. 23-24) and then regularly wrote about their cognitive and affective responses to specific racialized situations. The students with the most developed metacognitive and meta-affective practices at the end of the semester were able to “clear the obstacles and move away from” oversimplified thinking about race and racism ”to places of greater questioning, acknowledging the complexities of identity, and redefining the world in racial terms” (p. 14).
So one antidote to the numbing effect of a particular medium is to use another medium that has a counter-effect: “When the technology of a time is powerfully thrusting in one direction, wisdom may well call for a countervailing thrust” (70-71). So turn off the TV (or the computer or the cell phone) after some time and read a book or take a walk in the woods. After enough reading, have a conversation with another human being. McLuhan thus is arguing that a “cure” for the effects of a dominant medium or pattern of the time can be a countervailing force in the opposite direction of the dominating force.