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Don't Give Up on the Lecture - Abigail Walthausen - The Atlantic


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In the 2010 study from Harvard’s Kennedy School “Is traditional teaching really all that bad?,” Guido Scwerdt and Amelie Wupperman tried to quantify the “sage-on-the-stage” model of education as compared to its counterpart, “guide-on-the-side,” in which a teacher designs an activity or learning experience for students and steps back from direct instruction. According to the data, students exposed to lecture more than other classroom activities showed more significant learning gains than their peers. The authors were careful to point out that this data need not be proscriptive. One of the study’s faults is that there is no way to account for the teachers who gravitate more towards lecturing because they excel at it, and those who encourage group work because they are comfortable managing such dynamics. If the community of educators has agreed to value student learning styles, why not allow adults the freedom to play to their own strengths as well? I certainly know that while I am articulate in facilitating student discussion, my communication breaks down and I am a weaker teacher in a noisy room. For my high-school students, I know there is great value in teaching them how to use their notebooks to respond as I talk—it gives many of them lead time in developing questions and comments that they can be proud of contributing to discussion later in the class. It is for these reasons I feel that lecturing can create a more democratic experience for students than a lesson that is entirely student-focused.

Mary Burgan, in her article for the Carnegie Foundation’s Changehas defendedlectures writing that “that teachers are irreplaceable as models of knowledgeable adults grappling with first principles in order to open their students' understanding,” but also that a “passionate display of erudition [is] valuable in itself—regardless of the rewards of approval or popularity.” Richard Gunderman argues that the craft of the lecture is key to its value, maintaining that “Good lecturing is an art, and like other arts such as painting, musicianship, and writing, it takes real dedication and many hours of practice to excel at.”

my response is engagement with the material is key. whether it comes from a good teacher, a good book, or a good experiment

Amen to that, Jared.

I do find that real life is better than online for many things.

what about simulations though?  

Yeah, simulations are definitely best for some things. Good point.

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