Photo credit to: Christophe Volet for The Chronicle
Lecturing – a snooze fest or an exciting learning adventure? Well, it all really depends on the teacher. Brooksfield says, “Like any technique lecturing can be done abominably. But just because something is mishandled by some teachers doesn’t mean the method as a whole is inherently flawed.” So true. I happen to be a fan of using lecturing to some degree in my classroom. However, I know that most people have a 20-minute attention span so lecturing needs to be done well and quickly.
Brooksfield suggests, we should creatively “break lectures into well-paced 10 – 15 minute chunks that deal with separate ideas”. He explains that we can use interludes like “buzz groups, periods for audience questions, reflective silences, the use of visual illustration, the lecturer moving to another part of the room to make a new point, clickers, reviewing a class Twitter feed, responding to questions posed on TodaysMeet, and so on.” These are all good, creative ideas to break up a long lecture.
In his book, Teaching Naked, Jose Bowen (2012) also shared his valuable advice on the topic of lecturing. He said, “There is a place for lectures, but they should be used only sparingly and only when there is evidence that they are really the best pedagogy. They also need to be deeply inspiring, challenging, interactive, motivating, and geared to exactly the audience present. An hour sampling videos on iTunesU will convince you that, as in most things, the vast majority of lectures are at best average and many are much worse: meandering, boring, and incomprehensible. We lecture by default.” Yes, yes, and yes. Those words “meandering, boring and incomprehensible” unmistakably explain the lectures I received in my college experience to a T. That’s why I went into trades. (wink, wink). I remember thinking, “How in the world am I supposed to remember all this information being thrown at me?” And more often than not, “When in the world will I ever use this?” It was perplexing.
The fact is, we need to encourage students to be active, independent learners and problem solvers through creative lecturing techniques, rather than allowing them to be passive receptors of information.
What creative lecturing techniques do you use?
Bowen, Jose A. (2012). Teaching Naked: The Naked Curriculum, p. 246. San Francisco:
Brookfield, Stephen D. The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom, 3rd Edition, 2015, P. 10. Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition.