Ending the Tyranny of the Lecture

July 29, 2011

Ending the Tyranny of the Lecture

Today I read two articles in the same email newsletter.  They were “hot”!  In this blog, I’ll discuss the first article – Ending the ‘tyranny of the lecture’.

It features Harvard University physics professor Eric Mazur who thinks that “lecturing is an outdated—and largely ineffective—strategy for imparting knowledge.”  The article said that he asked his audience to think of a skill they were good at, then tell how they got good at it.  Not surprising, the lecture method never came up.

He thinks that we need to get past the transfer of information, and that students actually have “to do something with this information to make it stick…to actually assimilate it and take ownership of it, so they can apply this knowledge in a different context. If students can’t do that, he said, then they haven’t really learned anything.”

Hmm…this must sound familiar to anyone familiar with the Delphian School program.  I love that others are catching on.  This is very exciting.  

Professor Mazur points out that schools and colleges focus on information transfer, “while leaving the critical second step—assimilation—to students outside of class”.  As you read in an earlier blog about the Khan Academy, the flipped classroom is one approach being tried by many teachers, led by Salman Khan.

Of course, we build the application into each step of the study process.  That is the only way that makes sense.  

Mazur correctly notes that when we didn’t have the printing press making books widely available, “lecturing was an effective way to impart information to many people simultaneously.”  But those days are over because books are readily available, and we have all kinds of new media such as Khan Academy.  Now Mazur says that data transfer can occur at home and the classroom time can be used to “ensure that students understand the material and can apply it in various contexts.”  

Although he doesn’t have all of the educational tools and approach we use here, based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard, he is reporting good results by just focusing on giving questions in class that forces the students to think with the material and “apply it in a whole new way.”  This is followed by a class discussion, and more questions.  The article gives much more information about his work.

But the important take-away – the thing to remember – is that there are others who agree with us that we must end the tyranny of the lecture!

Posted by marks on Friday July 29, 2011 at 04:07PM

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