Stop Talking To Me

I love school. I have always loved school since the very first day of kindergarten. I even tried to trick my mom that school started earlier.

That being said, I am not a very good listener for learning. When I came to college, I had a bit of a panic because I sat (aka slept) through many of my lectures because I struggled to pay attention. I was worried that I was unintentionally wasting college. I did attend 99.8% of my classes unless I was at death’s door ill.  I worked hard outside of class. I am a kinesthetic learner, and learn by writing and by doing. I basically taught myself what I needed to know to advance. It served me well. I graduated cum laude in my undergraduate career and summa cum laude for my Master’s from Virginia Tech. That being said, I still greatly value the concept of a physical class.

I get frustrated when I am talked at. I get frustrated when discussion is forced. It is just not how I learn. I agree, for the most part, with  Robert Talbert’s four things a lecture should be used for. There is no advantage to a lecture that just repeats its reading. It needs to expand and enhance. My roommate, an intelligent and upcoming biological engineer, intentionally skips a class every week. She doesn’t do this because she is uninterested or a bad student. She does it because all the teacher does for the class period is present a power point lecture of the chapters that he had the students read. She asked me, “why do I need to go hear exactly what I just read?” My roommate is also in the course we discussed in class last week that was described as a “triple flip with a twist”. Every week, I see her actively engaged with the work for this class. She will sit down on a Friday night and watch the videos or complete the “pre-class” activity. This is a class that she never misses.

Shifting gears now, I want to talk about Mark Carnes’ post about Setting Students’ Minds on Fire. I am all for active learning and contextualizing it for a subject area. I love the idea of incorporating a game like the one he mentions. I still fondly remember my AP government class from high school where our teacher had us divide into table groups and become countries. My group kidnapped another group’s leader for the sake of bargaining for better trade from his country.

I am a PhD student in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and I am specializing in the area of events management. Events management is not something that can just be read about. Students need to be actively engaged in an experiential learning process in order to properly learn the elements of event planning and coordination. I hope to develop classes that reflect this.

Tying back to the start of this blog post, I hope as a future teacher that I can avoid the booby trap of “read the power point” classes. I don’t want to sit there and just talk at people almost as much as I don’t like people just talking at me.

6 thoughts on “Stop Talking To Me”

  1. I can so relate to your roommate. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, (i.e. I knew I wouldn’t be punished for missing) I would skip class. There were one or two courses that I attended on the first day and on subsequent exam days. That being said, when a course relied heavily on discussion, I was happy to attend. If the ultimate goal is to learn, and the information is on the powerpoint, and I’m fully capable of reading and absorbing the information visually, why attend? I always felt a sense of shame for skipping class, but in hindsight, I was doing what felt right to me at the time, and my grades did not suffer. The drawback is that these were the classes most easily forgotten. I came away with nothing.

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  2. I also always went to class and have been fortunate in that I have had great teachers for the most part. I have experienced the “read-the-powerpoint” presentation style more frequently when I go to professional meetings. And it offends me. Does the presenter not know that I (and all of my companions in the audience) can read? Fortunately, in a presentation, I don’t feel bad leaving and finding a better one for the time slot. I am not sure that I could endure attending a class in this style. I think that it is disrespectful of one’s students to ask them to spend valuable time preparing for class and then present the material that was learned through the pre-class activities during class time. It makes me sad when I hear of students who are subjected to this.

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  3. I appreciate that you shared your own experiences or your roommate’s example to make your point, I feel that it is a nice way to attract and engage readers. I think that actually is part of the point you want to make, that learning and lectures should relate to interests and vividness. You made a good example in this blog to engage the reader, you were not just going through key points, you were not just talking at people. I agree with you and I think you will do good in your future teaching since you know how to tell stories.

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  4. I don’t like the read-the-powerpoint class, either. However, I usually don’t skip this kind of lecture because I even don’t want to read that slides. In that case, have someone read it for you may be a way to get through the difficult stuff. The key problem is that I think we don’t have full control of choosing the courses that we really want to take. Some courses are boring but required in the program. Some courses are not enjoyable at this moment but may be helpful in the long run.

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  5. Thanks for sharing! I dislike and do not want to be an instructor that “talks at” students. And that flip flop with a twist class sounds so interesting and a great way to engage the students

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  6. I can relate to this on so many levels. I loathe being “talked at” in the classroom. When I am in situations like this I will often skip the class or attend, but not be “present”. If you were in front of the classroom faced with presenting material that is typically taught via “talking at” people, how would you teach it differently to make it more engaging?

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