Dan Richards introduces the pioneering educational theorist John Dewey, making a case for the lasting value of his educational writings and theories, including Democracy and Education (1916), “My Pedagogic Creed” (1897), and the idea that, in whatever conditions we find ourselves teaching, we should seek to to make as much meaning as we can.
Many students spend too little time on learning. We should help those who need it learn how to manage their time and set priorities. We should also help, but in different ways, those whose difficult life situations put “time management” out of the question.
We often hear only the pro- and anti- positions in debates about lecturing. I want to advocate a more nuanced perspective: There is no such thing as lecturing. There are many different things that get lumped together under that one term.
If anyone tells you exactly how to teach based on research, they’re misusing the research. The research does not offer blueprints for how to teach, detailed instructions on what to do and how to do it. But it does offer maps. Using these maps requires certain skills.
Lecturing came first. It has always been with us. Active learning came later. It has been on the scene for a relatively short time. Right? To the contrary, while lecturing has a medieval history, active learning has an ancient one.
In a culture with few serious readers, professors belong to a privileged reading class. We are literate to nth degree. When we read the scholarship on teaching and learning, we put our high levels of literacy to use for immediate and practical good. Unfortunately, too often we do not do this as much as we might want or as much as we should, for a variety of legitimate and not-so-legitimate reasons. Why not? Obstacles abound.
That many of us read the scholarship on teaching and learning may largely be explained by its utilitarian value, i.e., we read because doing so may prove useful in improving our teaching. However, beyond its “use-value,” many of us read because doing so fits the ethos of professorship. To wit, we value reading, curiosity, lifelong learning, critical thinking, evidentiary reasoning, capacity for sustained effort, and quality.