Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pedagogy Rant: Part 2

So, here is part 2 of the rant that I owe you.  Its a simple bit:  we as academics ought to know better than to create these ridiculous straw men based on some kind of perceived bipolarity.  Providing information in lecture/discussion format works very, very well for some subject matters.  Group assignments work very, very well for some subject matters.  Stop presenting pedagogy as if it is a magic pill in a one size fits all world.  Sticking all of us teaching professionals in a metaphorical snuggie (following the one size fits all thought process here?) is not the way to go.

Or thanks to commenter, Tony (of can never tell if I should put that stuff.  Yell at me if I shouldn't), we have this one:
 "You are not a sage on the stage, but a guide by the side!"
Thanks, Tony.  I, totally, snorted.

I will leave you with this thought.  A dear friend and colleague of twenty years stopped by to chat.  He has embraced the non-"broadcasting" model.  I asked:  "what, exactly, do you do now?"  "Oh, I give them crossword puzzles."  "Crossword puzzles?"  "Sure, I divide them in groups and they fill them out together to learn the terms.  Then I go over them the last ten minutes of class.  It is, actually, much easier for me...and, you know, I just don't care anymore."

For every bad "broadcast" experience of 400 distracted students passively allowing words to wash over their rapidly-texting minds; I can find you a class of 30 students, pushed together in groups, rapidly-texting while one of their kind is forced to fill out a crossword puzzle.

Can we please have a more intelligent discussion than this mess.

I am looking at you Mr. NPR guest, Don Tapscott. (Read the comments.)


Tony Waters said...

Ok, since I seem to be on a's something that might be worth another snort. Have you come across the "clicker" fad in Texas?

You require all students in the class to bring a clicker and then you ask a multiple choice question to "check for comprehension." If they all get it right, you move on with the "delivery of the content." If they are asleep you start over--you don't even need to tell a joke, funny or otherwise, to wake them up. The good thing is that you have an actual number attached to "comprehension" which you can cite in your tenure and promotion file.

This used to be called "look in their eyes for confusion and/or disbelief," but that wasn't assessable, and can't go in your promotion file. Hence clickers.

Pamthropologist said...

I had to buy a clicker for my daughter to use. She thought it was a useless joke. When she returns from abroad, I will have to let her know of its importance in the tenure/promotion process. I feel sure that she will snort in disgust.

When they presented the information to us at a workshop, I think we were all a bit confused. Why do we need clickers for 30 some people. Questions you are not supposed to ask, I might add.

Thanks, Tony. Too funny.

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