Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I am an interactive performer THINKING in the classroom.

In discussions about distance learning and technology, I realize that little of what I hear mirrors what I do in my classes.

1. I am the center of my classroom. I give a lecture with lots of room for questions and discussions. But in fact just discussion has little place in that room. (I know this is outrageous--as is much that is below.)
2. I lecture to think through a problem, to present an account of a field. I can usually discern one or two main points. I love questions and dissents. In general, I have not found interesting student comments on other students' questions.
3. In just about all my classes students write papers about something related to the class that interests them. I work with them through several drafts, and we discuss issues in class, including the formulation of their problems. If I think they are going in an unfruitful direction, I almost never allow them to go in that direction.
4. There is very little "material" in my lectures. There are issues and conflicts and arguments, but little in the way of stuff on which you might test someone, even those issues/conflicts/arguments. I almost never give examinations.
5. It all depends on me, on my thinking things through, on being prepared, on having interesting stuff to present.

I presume that the reason the students are in the room is to hear me discuss the issues, interact with them about their work, and exemplify how to think.  This is not Harvard Business School discussion teaching, this is not collaborative learning, this is not student-centered as that term is used nowadays. It is subject-centered and professor-centered.


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