Dear Professors: Stop Lecturing. Now.

When I first started teaching, I incorporated mini-lectures about authors and about the various historical or social contexts in which our texts were written in order to guide my class to new insights about a text. It seemed logical to explain big concepts, just as I’m sure it seemed logical to many of my former professors at university to tell their captive audience insights like: Gender is a construct; no book, poem or song exists in a vacuum; you don’t know as much as you think you know.

The problem with this lecturing – even on a micro scale – is that it deprives students of the thinking process that goes into discovering; it also works to limit new ideas and it reinforces the idea that the instructor is the holder of knowledge who is there to dispense wisdom to students. I no longer lecture, simply because I know that students don’t need me to do so. What they need is a facilitator: Someone who can guide their thinking through questioning, and someone who can organize discussion in the classroom.

Why Professors Won’t Stop Lecturing

Students are capable of generating knowledge for themselves; research suggests that students are more likely to retain information that they discover for themselves; it has been my experience that students have more fun when they’re engaged in this process and not in a reclining pose poised to receive information from the person at the front of the classroom. Even so, the lecture will likely live on. Here’s why:

  • The lecture is easy option for attempting to meet the needs of 150 students packed into a lecture hall. It’s much harder, and more time-consuming, to press students to deepen their thinking through questioning. Those who lecture can simply say “well, I explained it,” and relieve themselves of any further involvement in student learning.
  • Professors like this who don’t believe that it’s their job to teach, but genuinely believe that they are the keepers of knowledge.
  • Professors are awarded for research above teaching. Unfortunately for students, many professors will not have sufficient incentive to refine their teaching strategies, and their lectures will live on.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s