Post Academic

The Butts-in-Seats Teaching Philosophy

Posted in Process Stories,The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on December 22, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionNow that people are grumbling about the usefulness of core courses and education that does not involve an MBA, I’ve been pondering the point of higher education. Is it facts? Maybe not. See what Dr. $hriaz has to say about that over at Worst Professor Ever.

After a few years in the Hamster World, I’m starting to think that education involves a sprinkling of facts and massive doses of the following three lessons:

1. Getting people to sit down, shut up and concentrate. I figured out this lesson when I taught SAT courses. The courses started in 9th grade and led right up to the test. I taught vocabulary and grammar, but I also gave practice tests, and you could measure success by how well the students were able to concentrate. You can memorize as many big words as you want, but it won’t help if you are thinking about your World of Warcraft scores during the test. Concentration is a critical skill.

2. Encouraging people to stop believing everything they hear. OK, this is the humanities element talking, but one of the best exercises I did when I was TA-ing was teaching logical fallacies by giving students print ads and asking them to list all the fallacies. Oh, bandwagon! Oh, slippery slope! I don’t think I transformed my students, but I think that a few of them were surprised to discover that just because something looks, sounds and even smells true doesn’t mean it is.

More after the jump! Image of Canadian students in a train classroom, 1950, from Library and Archives Canada, Wikimedia Commons.