My semester is off and running and I am reminded (yet again) how much I enjoy the craft and calling of teaching...and how frustrated I am by the myriad forces that have created an increase in the size and number of lecture courses. I am one of the fortunate ones, afforded the opportunity to work with smaller, specialized undergraduate classes and the ubiquitously-diligent graduate classes. Even there, however, the method of teaching is not always ideal, as noted by one of the exiting graduate students this summer:
There was no course in the MMBA program (where) we were able to get one-on-one or even group interaction with a professor.This bothers me, as an educator, as the parent of a near-college-age student, and as a citizen. The advent of classrooms and schools rather than individual or small-group interaction (think "Socratic method") were an attempt to be efficient and effective in educating more people more quickly. Good idea. Good intention. Mediocre implementation, taken as a whole.
This is on my mind, of late, due to the steadily growing body of data that indicates we have a better way to educate--one that is efficient, effective, and replicates many of the best aspects of the mentor, the dialog, the one-on-one. But don't take my word for it. Listen to Daphne Koller, who has enough academic credentials and research experience to be more than credible when she says:
We should spend less time at universities filling our student's minds with content by lecturing them, and more time igniting their creativity...by actually talking with them.