Thursday, October 22, 2015

On Not Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water

OK, so this is a little self-serving of me, but I figure I'm allowed once in a while.  And I do really have a point to make here.

Academics are currently all in a flutter (well, as much as academics ever deign to "flutter") over an opinion piece in the New York Times called "Lecture Me. Really." In it, the author talks about the value of the traditional college lecture.

We currently live in a climate in which the lecture has fallen into disfavor. The "sage on the stage" has been replaced by the "guide on the side," and professors are urged to use more participatory and student-led forms of instruction, particularly those involving technology.

There's nothing wrong with that.  The more good teaching techniques we have around, the more students we can reach, and the more learning that goes on. That's the name of the academic game.

But part of the problem is that those who lecture are considered dinosaurs, and the lecture is considered passe. That's a shame, because part of sustainable living is not throwing out things that might still work, even if they are old. (See, this really does relate to my blog!)

Lectures have worked for centuries because people love stories. Beowulf was meant to be chanted around a campfire, not read from a book. Many of the first universities have their start with experienced "professors" taking on students to whom they would lecture. Even American universities by and large have relied on the lecture as their primary educational method, and some of our best thinkers have emerged from that system.

But many people don't know how to lecture effectively.  It's more than just putting some bullet points on a Powerpoint deck and reading them allowed.  A truly effective lecture should leave the lecturer a little breathless, because she should be walking the aisles, reading student faces, adapting to student reactions, and constantly tailoring her comments to the needs of the students she has in front of her.

My first book, a very quick read, tells you how to give the "dynamic lecture" effectively.  If you want autographed copies, there's a link to my Etsy store at the right where you can order.  Otherwise, you can get really great deals as below:

Amazon Kindle
Barnes and Noble

And don't hesitate to contact me for bulk discounts or for (dynamic!) speaking engagements.

Now back to your regularly-scheduled gardening posts.
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