Don’t Lecture Me

Over the course of my life I have had what I will modestly claim to be extensive experience with lectures. I got them throughout public school, at university, and in my masters program. Lots of people have lots of opinions about lectures, the most common of which is related to this:

People think lectures are extremely boring. They think lectures are an ideal time to catch a nap. They think the most interesting thing to be done in a lecture is to play Angry Birds surreptitiously.

If that describes you, I humbly submit that you have been to a lot of bad lectures.

Last week, I taught my government students about 5 major supreme court cases that have shaped the power of the Judicial Branch. We went through the inciting incident, constitutional issue, decision, and social/political impacts of each case. Does this sound to you like information high school seniors find interesting? And yet, throughout the class, students were engaged in the material, asking on-topic questions and taking notes furiously. And it was a lecture.

I think the key, the aspect of my lesson that made it work, is I functioned not as an all-knowing authority, but a fellow explorer. When they asked questions I couldn’t answer, we paused and searched. I asked questions rather than stating facts. And you know what? It worked like a charm.

Have you been to a lecture that was amazing? What made it so great? Let me know in the comments.


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