You may have seen the recent New York Times op-ed piece by Molly Worthen, in which she defends the “traditional lecture” against what she sees as pedagogical threats posed by “the active learning craze” and a “populist resentment of experts.” The essay lit up social media in academic circles, and was shared and re-posted widely. Worthen certainly speaks to the things professors value: students who can take good notes, model critical argument, and learn to listen both closely and deeply. Her argument that “comprehension and reasoning,” the two bedrock skills for “the essentials of working life and citizenship,” are the products of lecturing done well appeals to the content-geek in all of us. Who among us doesn’t have a vision of ourselves up on stage, waxing erudite about the intricacies of our discipline to an admiring throng of students hanging raptly upon our every word? Worthen’s call to return to the lecture and rediscover the essentials of a humanistic education is a seductive argument indeed. Continue reading “Lecture Me–Really?”
Are we unfair to students?
Can our decisions, no matter how good our intentions, hurt student learning?
Are we teaching for ourselves, or for our students?
These are challenging questions, ones that make me uncomfortable when I hear them. Part of this discomfort stems from defensiveness; how dare you assume I’m doing things intentionally to hurt student learning? How dare you question my assumptions? But another part of that discomfort stems from an awareness that maybe these questions have a point. Continue reading “The Choices We Make”