What Learning People Really Think About Lecturing

Is there really a war on lecturing going on across higher ed? Do learning professionals want to kill the lecture?

Read Christine Gross-Loh’s Atlantic piece, Should Colleges Really Eliminate the College Lecture?, and you would be forgiven in thinking that there is and that we do.

The anti-lecture cadre is characterized as comparing the traditional lecture to “bloodletting—an outdated practice that has long been in need of radical reform”.

This story makes for a neat argument. Who has not experienced the power of a transformative lecture? Who would not support the need for professors to “model the art of argument”?

And who is not critical of the tendency of educational pundits and administrators to blindly follow the latest educational fads?

Gross-Loh’s implies that the erosion in the quality of college lecturing [an argument provided with no evidence] has been driven by a decline in the status of rhetoric and public speaking. As interest in active learning has increased, so argues Gross-Loh, efforts to develop traditional lecture skills have waned.

The problem is that Gross-Loh’s description of the current climate on lecturing bears little resemblance to reality.