Saturday, August 30, 2014


There was an article in The Atlantic about Minerva, the new high-tech institution of higher education. One of its main points is that conveying information or teaching the basics of many fields is likely to be shifted to online courses. Minerva's faculty makes fun of the lecture, and for good reasons.

BUT, when I lecture I am thinking in front of a class and responding to questions and to implicit questions conveyed by the students' attitudes. I have little to convey in the way of material or techniques, nothing that is well tested by means of examinations. If I can convey to them how to think by my example and if they figure out how to do the projects I assign--that's good. Of course, you have to suspect that your way of thinking in front of a class is authentic and perceived as such by the students and it becomes part of their minds  You have to give them a sense of what it means to think and solve problems and be confused and understand. Since it is the only strength I have, and it seems my students do appreciate it, I am OK. But I am always unsure, for I have no crutch of conventional content.

Perhaps it would be good to conduct the class as a seminar, lots of back and forth, maybe like a law school class with its "Socratic" method.

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