Friday, November 16, 2012

Fall of the Lecture Zombies

Teaching can really be such an art. Imagine if every teacher we ever had put true creativity into their lessons -- imagine how hungry for learning we would all have been as kids.

I'm taking class right now with a fine education professor. He's a diminutive chap who dresses up in a suit and tie for each session and who moves around the room with constant energy. Though his approach is sometimes old-fashioned, one can see how he must have inspired the fifth-graders he used to teach.

From The Wall: Pink Floyd
Tonight, he opened class by asking us a question regarding Socratic method -- something from our notes the previous class. That's my thing, you know, so my hand went straight up with out a glance at my notebook. He pointed at me: "Not you," he said.

I was taken aback. Was this a compliment? Was he tired of my answering questions? Did he just not like the cut of my jib? Was there something caught between my teeth?

Then, he pointed to the next person with a hand up: "Not you." And the next: "Nope." And the next: "Uh-uh...nope...put your hand you..."

Eventually had had denied every person in the room.

We were in hysterics by the end of this. Everyone had either remembered or found the answer in his notes, but no one had been allowed to speak.

"Well," he said, rubbing his hands together and chuckling an evil chuckle. "Since everyone in the room thought this through, or looked it up -- and since everyone has an answer -- there is no reason to hear it. Okay, next point..."

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

And, then, there are the legions of monotone lecturers who think all this neo-educational theory is nonsense; that it's the student's job to learn by rote, regardless of the soul-sapping anti-energy of the arrogant, fact-disseminating zombie glued to the podium; as if their gaining the ability to slog through boredom is the ultimate objective of the educational process.

Dear lecture zombies: There's Google now. There's no need for you anymore. Go away.

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