Our Wednesday blog posts are a smattering of ideas from a wider variety of sources than we cover on the other days of the week. Sometimes people will distinguish very sharply between ideas “of a religious nature” and others. Through most of the history of Christianity, the Church has held a different opinion. We strive to see all of life through the lens of Christian philosophy. All humans are, in one way or another, teachers. In this lecture, Dr. Patrick Allitt continues to work with the idea of discussion as a means of learning.
The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator. Performed by Patrick N. Allitt. U.S.A.: The Teaching Company, 2010. DVD. Lecture 12, “Engaging with Discussion, Part 2.”
As was presented in lecture 11, discussion classes are very helpful to students. In a seminar class, small group discussion work with a specific question and a time limit can be a very useful tool, if handled carefully. Training a class to do this well can be a challenge. Teacher intervention is helpful when the class goes off track.
Even in a small class, some more passive students will need to be drawn out. This can be done through questioning or making the shy student a spokesperson for the group.
Role-playing exercises may also help students engage with characters and articulate their ideas. Speaking as a person who holds values other than one’s own is a helpful skill.
The “case method” is used widely in law schools. Students find a way to address a question and they raise questions and debate about the situation. Those who are well prepared gain a lot through discussion of all types.
All education is aimed at having students take ownership of ideas. Careful use of discussion and debate prepares students for this move. Teachers need to remember in all their work that the skills they are developing may be new and difficult for the students. They require practice, something the classroom is made for.
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