I often think a lot about professional learning, and this week’s #EDUin30 question is asking about what that could look like (here is the response to the question). Although I have not received any responses as of yet, a lot people will talk about things like EdCamp, MakerSpaces, TeachMeet, and other ideas for really pushing professional learning. I even wrote about the topic in my posts regarding 8 Things to Look for in Today’s Professional Learning, and honestly, “lecture” never made the cut.
So why has “lecture” become a bad word in education today?
Personally, I love a good lecture. If it evokes story and brings out emotion, I feel that it can not only connect with me in that moment, but for a long time after. My favourite professor in university (by far), was someone who actually probably didn’t know my name, and never set up any learning experiences that you often hear about in education today, yet I learned so much from him because of the way he told stories. Although his subject was 20th century history, he connected so much of his own life to the things that he discussed. It prompted me to major in history, and I still have a love of the topic today. It was because of that professor who lectured.
I have heard the quote, “the person who is doing the talking, is usually doing the learning”, yet think of how untrue it is in the situation of that professor. He knew his stuff already, and I didn’t, yet I would write no notes, but think about what he had said for days after. That being said, I also remember many professors in the area of history who lectured and bored me to tears. They shared facts, but didn’t tell stories, which elicited no emotion from myself. I didn’t feel something, I was less likely to learn. I remember seeing one keynote who within the first few minutes of their talk encouraged people to discuss with someone beside them a certain topic, and I remember thinking, “I just want to hear a good story and listen to someone who helps me make a connection.” Should I feel bad that I didn’t want to dive into my “own” learning at this time and just want to be inspired by learning something new?
My own feelings on this topic, might not be true for everyone. Some might feel that hearing a story just doesn’t connect with them in any way. But I will also tell you, that the “maker spaces” I have seen do not connect with myself either. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe they are powerful learning opportunities for others, but it just reminds me that learning is a very personal thing, and for us to say something is “bad”, might only mean that we don’t see the relevance for learning in our own situations.
Anything done too much, will lose it’s impact. This could be true of any type of learning. Variety is powerful, but what works for you, doesn’t mean it works for someone else and we have to remember that sitting and hearing a great story, can make a huge impact on learning. A great lecture is like an art form, and making a personal connection to content, helps others do the same for themselves.
“Telling someone about your experience breathes new life into it, moving it out of the inchoate swirl of unconsciousness into reality. It takes on form and allows us to examine it from all angles.” - Mandy Aftel
There is still some value in a great lecture and a powerful story. Let’s not forget about that.