in opposition to lecturing

In the past in this space, and even recently, I have been open-minded about the practice of lecturing, to each his/her own or something like that I suppose. Today I am going to say abandon lecturing. There’s no precipitating event leading me to this. That’s just the way it’s going to be in these parts from here on.

Let me be specific, by lecture here I mean the practice of going in front of a group of students and offering them a prepared speech of 30 minutes or more. There are plenty of good reasons for teachers to speak in the classroom, but this practice is no longer defensible.

Honestly, record it and put it up on the web, in your course manage system, or podcast or whatever. Of if you like, type up your lecture and ask me to read it. If need be, make a little enhanced podcast or video to show me the slides. Hey, make a video of your lecture if you like.

And then bring your students to the classroom when you actually want them to do something besides play the role of dutiful audience. If you like, make your class a hybrid and just schedule class time for discussion or group work or lab or workshop or whatever. Let’s say you had a class with 100 students. Instead of lecturing to a crowd for 150 minutes a week. You could podcast your lectures and meet with 25 students at a time to have a discussion. Assign a group each time to be responsible for leading discussion. You record the meeting, and everyone is responsible for listening to that as well.

I know it’s not easy. Plenty of times I’ve planned course discussions that ended up with me talking far too much. Students have such a heavy expectation of playing the role of dutiful audience that they struggle to do other things. They are so used to intricately detailed instructions that they often feel lost when given the task of genuine invention.

Lecture is not about learning. It’s about control. Abandon both.

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2 thoughts on “in opposition to lecturing

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  1. I have a friend who teaches chemistry who’s done just that. He puts his lectures up as screencasts and podcasts and then during class time, he meets with groups of students and they work on problems.

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  2. I think that’s great Laura. I’m sure it will take some time for us (both students and faculty) to get used to teaching/learning in that way, but I’m confident that the future lies in that direction.

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