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Lecturing still effective?

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Now that the tables have turned and I am no longer a whiny graduate student complaining about how long it takes to graduate or how little I get paid, I have to actually think about real issues such as writing grants and finding funding for my students, working on papers and preparing material for class. Yes, preparing material for class takes a lot longer than one can imagine. It may not seem like a lot of work sitting as a student, but now crafting each class seems like a lot of work. The joy of teaching is obviously why I joined the professor to begin with, but it can get slightly confusing at times.

As I try to become a better teacher, I keep getting bombarded with novel teaching techniques such as active learning, discussion-oriented lectures, effective use of technology in the classroom, unique ways to engage students in and out of the classroom. My question, and one that some of my colleagues have asked recently is, “Is lecturing to a classroom a fading art form? Are we to assume that lecturing is a waste of time?”

Lecturing

As I was thinking about this issue, I came across a few interesting articles on lecturing. I particularly like the opening in this article from ‘Inside Higher Education‘ which says

In the age of computer-based learning, lecturing gets treated like Model-T Ford.

I couldnt help but agree more. Lecturing, as I see, is an essential form of education and clearly has been effective in varying degrees. I agree that hiding behind a podium with the lights turned off and going through a deck of slides is probably more effective at putting students to sleep than a strong sleeping pill. What I dont agree with though, is that adopting new techniques for the sake of it, isnt necessarily the best strategy, if one doesnt assimilate the core idea behind the technique.

Over at TeachingProfessor.com, I found this neat argument towards what lectures can accomplish. I particularly found the quote to be true in my personal life as a student.

…I think that a truly great lecturer has the capacity to change a student’s life, and I think that there is something valuable in students listening to a person who has an effortless command of a subject, in seeing the kind of dedication and erudition a fine lecturer embodies.

I realize that lecturing isnt the most popular technique right now and wonder what you have to say about it? Feel free to leave me some feedback in the comments section – after all this is my first post 🙂