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.

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