Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Lecture v. Thinking

A front page NY Times article explains that at M.I.T. "The physics department has replaced the traditional large introductory lecture with smaller classes that emphasize hands-on, interactive, collaborative learning. Last fall, after years of experimentation and debate and resistance from students, who initially petitioned against it, the department made the change permanent. Already, attendance is up and the failure rate has dropped by more than 50 percent."

A prof said this: "Just as you can’t become a marathon runner by watching marathons on TV...likewise for science, you have to go through the thought processes of doing science and not just watch your instructor do it." Replace "doing science" with "thinking" and you have a good classroom, in any field.

Discussions - 5 Comments

The technology discussed in the article shows some promise in cultivating the sort of learning Peter suggests. It's easier to imagine how it can do so in the natural sciences and mathematics - where there are syllogisms to follow in formulae and experiments. I have a tougher time imagining how they can be used in an introductory course on Plato's Republic, where conversation would be more free wheeling and the answers less pre-determined.

My thoughts exactly John. I think that Ashland does do a good job of trying to do this, at least when I was there. It is just difficult to get 18 year olds to think and discuss passionately at 8 am. It is interesting that we note how science, at least, what is taught, is predetermined. We call it an experiment to put baking soda and vineger in the volcano but we know what is coming. Politics and philosophy is not really like that. Interesting.

I imagine Ashland has the luxury of not having gigantic lecture classes of over a hundred students where the use of this technology starts looking attractive.

Very true.

John Dewey would be overjoyed....

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