In chapter 6 of Steven Brookfield’s book The Skillful Teacher he speaks to the benefits of lecturing. I enjoyed this chapter because I tend to enjoy lectures both as a student and an instructor. For the subject that I teach often I find them to be the most efficient way to get to the information to the students. I know that I probably lecture more than I should, and I know I need to expand and explore other options with my teaching, but this will take time and the reality is I will always need to do some lecturing. It was refreshing to have someone write a positive spin on the lecture and give some example of how to improve it as a teaching method. I often find that many views are against lectures, they have all these fantastic suggestions as to how to break the class up and have them debate on viewpoints and topics. Encourage the students in expressing their opinion about the subject matter and exploring concepts more deeply. This is all fine and good and sounds very interesting and engaging, but I find many academics that are making these suggestions are those who teach in fields that this will work well in. I have a hard time wrapping my head around how do I spur a productive discussion, where students can debate their viewpoints on a subject such as the operation of a landing gear circuit in an aircraft. To be honest it doesn’t matter how they feel about it and there is really nothing to debate. The landing gear works the way it was engineered to work and they are not meant to feel philosophical about it they just need to understand what happens to make it go up and down. When teaching something so black and white and that needs to be understood so precisely it is challenging to imagine teaching it any other way than through a lecture. I also teach some material that is incredibly dry and many students don’t find it interesting. I on the other hand do find what I teach interesting, and I find that when I lecture my enthusiasm spills out and the students are able to drink it up. They see hey, maybe this isn’t so bad and useless as I fist had thought. I love the quote that Brookfield uses in this chapter “there’s only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm, and that’s the lack of it” (Brookfield, 2015, pg. 72). I fully believe this, and anyone who doesn’t just needs watch this clip below!
Now if this teacher from the iconic movie Ferris Buller’s Day off doesn’t turn you off the thrilling study of economics I don’t know what will. Like Brookfield points out in this chapter any method of teaching if done incorrectly becomes undesirable, lectures are not bad they are just bad when they are not done well. I really enjoyed many of the suggestions he had on making lectures more creative. Again some of the things he proposed I have a hard time getting on board with for my subject matter, but others I found would be very useful. The two things I took away from this was chunking up my lectures into 15 minute blocks and moving around more while teaching. I am going to utilize Poll Everywhere and the white board to post questions or elicit reactions about topics from my students during my lecture, just as Brookfield suggests. I also plan to move more as I teach, employing the idea of “lecturing from Siberia” (Brookfield, 2015, pg. 74) as he put it in his book. I will set up visual aids or demonstrations in non traditional areas of the classroom in order to better facilitate this concept and reach all of the students in my class equally. I have gotten some great inspiration from this chapter and am excited to start using them in my classroom this fall.
Brookfield, S. (2015) The Skillful Teacher: On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Huges, J.(Director)& Paramount Pictures (Producer). (1986) Ferris Buller’s Day Off [Motion Picture] Los Angeles, CA: Paramount Pictures.