In Defense of the Lecture


William Hogarth, Scholars at a Lecture (1736)

Audiences outside academia clearly understand the benefits of collective listening. If public lectures did not draw sizable crowds, then museums, universities, bookstores, and community centers would have abandoned them long ago. The public knows that, far from being outdated, lectures can be rousing, profound, and even fun.

In her article entitled, “In Defense of the Lecture,” Miya Tokumitsu argues we should “remember the benefits of collective listening.”

For more read the entire piece here:

Lecturing Creatively


Pieter Isaacs,  Knight Academy Lecture (Rosenborg Palace) (1620s)

With so much discussion of active learning, flipped classrooms, and so on, lecturing often gets a bad reputation. And as much as I am interested in activities, and hands on approaches I am also interested in improving my lecturing for those times when it really can contribute to learning.

Some of my most deeply transformational learning moments have come during lectures. I remember crying silently in the dark lecture hall, as one professor gave a particularly moving talk about Käthe Kollwitz’s heart-wrenching prints depicting her anguish after loosing her son Peter in the First World War. Another professor’s passionate descriptions of every nook and cranny of the canals of Venice and the jewel-toned paintings that decorated the city’s scole walls, inspired me to be an art historian.

In The Skillfull Teacher, Stephen D. Brookfield provides five reasons for including lectures as an element in your teaching:

  1. To provide an outline for a body of material
  2. To explain difficult concepts
  3. To provide new perspectives and interpretations
  4. To model intellectual attitudes and behaviours
  5. To spark interest in a topic

Brookfield explains, when done well, lecturing, “can provide students with a solid foundation of understanding that can then be extended or critiqued in discussions and assignments” (p. 82). This is definitely something for me to consider!

Brookfield, S. (2006). The skillful teacher: On trust, technique and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Earlier this summer, The College of the North Atlantic’s Respiratory Therapy program lost its accreditation. In 2016 the Council on Accreditation for Respiratory Therapy Education placed the program on a one-year probation, and then although the college tried to address deficiencies, apparently there was not enough improvement to maintain their status. For more see this CBC article and this interview on NTV. 

The 13 students accepted into the program for this fall have been refunded their money, but another 26 who have completed their first and second years are stuck. Regardless of the issues, as is often the case in post-secondary struggles it is the students that pay the price. As one student echoed, even if they are able to have their money refunded, they are still out the time and effort they have invested.

In one department I teach in, we are not externally accredited per se, but because each course is university transferable, routinely each PSI in the province, reviews the outline and learning objectives to determine if it will be transferable and if so what the equivalent course or number of credits it will be. Maintaining standards is important not only for an institutions reputation but also for how we value our students. I think often PSI’s forget that they are or should be in the service of students.



What a couple of weeks! It is back to school time, my favourite time of year! A brand new start with new and returning students.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of meetings, orientations, and classes. This semester should be interesting as I am teaching two classes, outside of my specialty in addition to another brand new course, and don’t forget all the admin work. I am looking forward to experimenting with some of the techniques I learned in the Instructional Skills Workshop and of course my PIDP Professional Practices module.

Let the games begin!

I found it!

Last week I took the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) as credit for PIDP 3220. To be honest I had been procrastinating enrolling because I was terrified. Preparing lessons and presenting them to colleagues? What could be more nerve-racking than that?

Mostly because of the wonderful facilitator, the ISW was one of the best experiences of my teaching career. I met other passionate educators, honing their craft and best of all learned so much!

At the end of a very intense four days, we each selected from a stack of educational quotes, one saying that reflected our pedagogical beliefs. I picked:

“…we teach what we love. Isn’t that a major part of what’s caused us to become teachers in the first place? We want to spend our life helping others experience the pleasure we experienced as students as we became more knowledgeable and skilled in the discipline we find so fascinating.” 

I knew it was by Brookfield, but I didn’t expect the lines to be included in the chapter on “Understanding Students’ Resistance to Learning”. Among the reasons Brookfield lists for students resisting learning are poor image as learners, fear of the unknown, a normal rhythm of learning, a disjunction of learning and teaching styles, apparent irrelevance of the learning activity, inappropriate level of learning, fear of looking foolish in public, cultural suicide, lack of instructor clarity, students’ dislike of teachers, and going to far, to fast (p. 218-225).

I found this chapter helpful, because I remembered it isn’t all about me. Sometimes I need to stop taking it personally and consider the learner’s perspective. That being said, as the next chapter explains, there can be ways to respond to students’ resistance to learning in a fruitful way.

It’s funny, in art history some of the best work has come from struggle, where art has emerged from the resistance. Maybe resistant students will make me work harder, become more reflective and improve.

Maybe some of the most beautiful learning will emerge from a place of resistance.