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. Today we consider an exploration of dynamic lecturing. The principles may apply to any situation in which one person needs to make a presentation. Let’s see what Dr. Allitt finds in the concept.
The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator. Performed by Patrick N. Allitt. U.S.A.: The Teaching Company, 2010. DVD. Lecture 7, “Dynamic Lecturing.”
Allitt here discusses lecturing, a tried and true practice in which the teacher speaks and the student listens. Lectures may be anywhere from about a minute to an hour or more in length. They may be very good at times. Then again, sometimes they fall flat. Allitt sets out to introduce how a teacher can make a good lecture.
In essence, the good lecture is informative, organized, engaging, about only one thing, and gives students something useful to take away. There are elements of theater involved in lecture, through motion, gesture, and eye contact. Allitt discourages reading a lecture from a script, as very few speakers can actually read well enough to keep attention. Since written and spoken English are different, lecturers need to use genuine spoken English patterns. Avoiding dependence on notes also allows the teacher to monitor student engagement more constantly. Body language should communicate the subject and the teacher’s desire to share the subject with the students.
The teacher persona, variations in speed and voice, and changes of posture have a strong effect on students. Allitt also points out that speaking quietly will often quiet a noisy classroom and attract attention. The teacher should also be sure to use accurate and strong language. Avoiding “like,” “you know,” and other rhetorical fillers is important.
Allitt reminds the viewer that students should be able to ask questions, reminding the teacher to clarify and expand on ideas. Being able to tie ideas to motifs familiar to students is important. For many audiences, a reference to a popular television series will mean more than a reference to Shakespeare. Remaining active in the classroom also increases the student impression of your lack of need for notes. Making movements purposeful allows students to see the direction the instructor wishes them to move mentally. Careful use of pacing including silence can be very helpful and powerful as well.
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