Lectures, learning, leadership, LOs LO19831

Fri, 13 Nov 1998 11:49:07 EST

Replying to LO19789 --

Some remarks to Sherri Malouf

> Steve -- to your question about why it survives...
> I differentiate lecture hall lectures from what At does because At, in my
> mind, is an accomplished storyteller. To me that is different.

To me it is not different. The difference is this: you like a particular
lecturer and you find his lectures fascinating and learning experiences.
Aren't you thus demonstrating that good lecturing is a learning experience
of value?

> In adult learning which has many proponents including Knowles and Kolb --
> experiential learning is proposed to be the best way of learning -- as it
> includes many different learning styles. All of my courses are designed
> to take into consideration the variety of ways that people learn.

I have looked at the research on learning styles, and it does not seem to
confirm your statement. Indeed, the evidence suggests that when students
are allowed to choose their learning style, eg, choose multimedia rather
than single channel communication, learning decreases. See Richard Clark's
summary of 50 years of research.

> An
> experiment was done 25 years ago where experiential learning was used with
> children and was found to be far superior. It didn't matter --it was
> never adopted.

I'd like to review that experiment. As far as I know, experiential
learning is widely used in schools and colleges: lab experience, work
experience, clinical experience for nurse and doctors, study abroad
opportunities. . .

What changes would you propose for college instruction?

> Why is the lecture hall system still in place? Because we still teach
> people to memorize facts.. not actually learn.

Sherri, we have millions of the "products" of our educational system
working at complex tasks today, and the republic seems intact despite our
problems. Graduates of our schools seemed to have learned enough to write
computer programs, put rockets into orbit, write novels and movies, take
part in discussions like this one. . .

> We stll want to have a
> system of control and power -- the reason for the continuuing practice of
> sermons ( btw church attendence, as far as I know, is still at an all time
> low.

Not so, Sherri. Some 40 per cent of Americans are at church on Sunday, and
others are watching tv sermonizing. The Southern evangelical churches are
growing, not shrinking, and some of the new megachurches attract

> Talk about missing the needs of your customers). The academic
> process is aggressive and disrespectful. I just attended part of a
> conference that was full of professors. The mode of interaction was not
> one that fits well with any model of learning I have ever been involved
> with. Quite frankly it was testosterone driven sword play and to me it
> was quite boring and unenlightening.>>

You find At interesting, others don't. I enjoy the kind of conference you
don't care for; I don't care much for much of the discussion-oriented
sessions others want, where it seems to me that much sharing of ingnorance
goes on. Isn't that what learning style theory teaches: it takes all

> The system of education is in the same horrible maze that government,
> healthcare, legal, penal -- you name it!! They are all stuck because there
> are very powerful interest groups who keep them the same AND it is too big
> to change. It seems as if anarchy or some sort of catasrophe are what
> will change these systems. Education has gotten feedback for ages that
> people don't come out with usable skills...The same comment has been made
> for many years. This is not to say that our teachers are to blame -- they
> do a tough job in an unforgiving system. All the latest round of attacks
> on teachers with this teacher testing stuff is insane. The system used
> its way of teaching to find out if teachers memorized knowledge on an
> unbelievable range of topics. Why not test them on their ability to deal
> with kids instead of theories about dealing with kids? Sigh -- we always
> attempt fixes which perpetuate the ill instead of looking at the root
> cause.

What are the root causes, Sherri? What changes do the teachers want? Do
they really want "experiential learning"? Is that what the teachers'
unions are proposing: opening the classroom doors, and letting students
work and learn in the community? Or do they want more of the same in the
school building, but with higher salaries?

> There are options -- like Waldorf or Montessori schools for the up to 18
> years olds. And there are options for learning in colleges.

What are the options for improving college education, Sherri?

> But the
> majority of our most precious resource is still subjected to the numbing
> effects of "talking heads".

But as you point out if the talking heads tells stories, are amusing, not
arrogant--like At, say--you like them.

Ask the customers, say at Harvard, how they feel about being allowed to
hear great minds in action, and if they would prefer "experiential
education." If we really believe in asking the "customer," isn't that
where we should begin?

You might be surprised at the answers, Sherri. And very disappointed.

Steve Eskow



Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>