I recently spent six and a half years obtaining two degrees and a number of certificates. I was also a teaching assistant for an advanced ornithology field and lab course. Before that, I was an educator and education advisor to elementary & middle school students, parents, and school faculties. I’ve been a presenter, & attended national, regional, & local conferences. The reason I’m telling you this is because I’ve spent a great deal of my life on either side of the podium…powerpoint…table…room…whatever physical thing that separates a lecturer from the listener/student/ or person who is merely attending because it’s a requirement for the grade.
So where do I sit–or stand–in regards to lectures? Well, on one hand I do obviously see the value in expanding one’s horizons, which doesn’t necessarily equate to attending lectures or having a piece of paper that lets you put a few letters after your name. Often, it’s the “real life” experiences like traveling, work, and relationships which provide us knowledge and create significant expansion. If we’re open to it.
But lectures have long been a part of the traditional educational system. And here I am today, well into my adulthood, and my learning style hasn’t changed much since I was in kindergarten. My strengths are visual, and communications (language arts, verbal and listening). I’m still mostly an experiential learner just like I was when I was five. As an educator for 15 years, I made certain to provide a balance of teaching techniques to students. Especially experiential learning opportunities.
My style as a student is to first research something, understand as best I can any theories and vocabulary associated with the concepts (I actually love to look up Latin & Greek roots, and still use a real dictionary). I get much more out of a lecture this way. And I don’t believe a lecture should just be someone standing up at the front of the room talking at you. I think we need to be engaged in conversation, expressing and listening to diverse thoughts, ideas and opinions. Lectures need to be creative and engaging. A lecture is not copy/pasting information into a list of bullet points. I still see that way too much. Lets do away with that folks. I dare anyone to give a lecture without a powerpoint. It’s fun!
Most importantly, I’ve learned from being on both sides of lectures the value and significance of putting newly obtained knowledge and skills to practical use for it to be truly integrated. So, in my opinion, a lecture is just a lecture until the essential information is put into action.
Here’s an example: Even though I have been a bird nerd most of my life, and I was a TA and teaching a field class about birds and bird vocalizations, it wasn’t until I started rehabbing raptors–being with, feeding, listening to, and observing injured hawks, eagles, and owls in flight cages at their most vulnerable moments–that I actually truly felt like I could understand birds & their communications more.
Those are my thoughts on lectures. What are yours? Please weigh in. I want to hear from you. As always, thanks for stopping by.
You can read more about the lecture prompt: