“Is lecturing underrated?” asks Scott Elias at the onset of a recent post. I’ve reached my saturation point on this whole issue — the answer resting so conspicuously somewhere in the middle — and Scott’s post lets me disembark this train appeased by the knowledge that moderation still reigns somewhere.
Among other sturdy points, Scott notes that when we hear the word “lecture” our minds burrow rather instantaneously to the lobe where we store that clip of Ben Stein droning through eyelids half-closed, “Bueller? Bueller?” and not to the many times we’ve sat in the audience of a gifted speaker capable of making her extensive experience real to us.
In a week, many of the same folks critical of my enthusiasm for presentation design and public speaking will be in Georgia at NECC 2007, sitting in large crowds at keynote lectures decidedly not learning through social networks. Whether they are learning passively is almost entirely up to them. Some of the same folks will, themselves, be lecturing at keynotes and breakout sessions of their own, likely snapping bulleted lists off in PowerPoint, a hypocrisy that defies explanation.
They’ll walk out of those keynotes, each one, reflexively constructing a hierarchy. That one was good. That one was boring. That one’s gonna make 150 kids’ lives a lot better next year.
It’d be super if these diehard social learners would connect this reflexive ranking to their own teaching. It’s foolish to suggest our students aren’t ranking us the same way. Perhaps we could then resolve to take steps towards more compelling lecturing, and speaking, if only for the circumstances, however rare they should be, when lecturing, speaking, and presenting are appropriate.
This summer, after I get desaturated from all this, I’d like to put a few items on that agenda. Scott’s got you covered ’til then.