Back to Work

Your students are back from Fall Break, as evidenced by cars in parking lots and joggers and the long caterpillars of students walking the paths from residence halls to classroom buildings or the Pit.  It’s colder this morning – highs only to get into the upper 50s today.  Coat weather.

There was an interesting editorial in the New York Times this weekend about the use of the lecture in college classes – why it has been a somewhat maligned form of education, and some of the overlooked benefits of lecture courses.  (While the NYT is a subscriber feature, typically they let you read a few free articles a month; give this article a try if you like).

This article touts the benefits that lectures provide.  Here’s a couple of excerpts:

“Lectures are essential for teaching the humanities’ most basic skills: comprehension and reasoning, skills whose value extends beyond the classroom to the essential demands of working life and citizenship.”

“In the humanities, a good lecture class does just what Newman said: It keeps students’ minds in energetic and simultaneous action. And it teaches a rare skill in our smartphone-app-addled culture: the art of attention, the crucial first step in the “critical thinking” that educational theorists prize.”

“Absorbing a long, complex argument is hard work, requiring students to synthesize, organize and react as they listen. In our time, when any reading assignment longer than a Facebook post seems ponderous, students have little experience doing this.”

– all from Lecture me. Really by Molly Wortham in the October 18, 2015 New York Times

With course registration coming up, students should be thinking about the courses they plan to take.  This editorial makes a pretty good case (in my humble opinion) that students ought to have some lecture courses among their other offerings.

— by Betsy Chapman

Categories: academics


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