Wednesday 10 December 2014

The Compleat Lecturer

The beginning of an on-going mini-booklet in which I try to encapsulate my 'philosophy' of lecturing - which was implicitly the mainstream in my medical school of 35 years ago - following on from a few hundred years of tradition. Now, however, I am left as, apparently, the one and only practitioner of the art and craft in the vicinity.

When I read descriptions of the great lecturers of the past, such as CS Lewis - who for a couple of decades was reputed to be the best in Oxford - I find it impossible to imagine them creating the same kind of impact by flicking through 'Powerpoint' slides in a pitch dark room, themselves invisible, and their amplified words intoned via a surround-sound public address system; their students not writing anything for themselves, not creating their own personal set of notes (treasured ever after); but instead passively watching a glowing screen and listening to a droning, disembodied voice - or else surreptitiously browsing the internet and social messaging.

It is the difference between actual teaching and learning, here and now; and 'I can always read the handouts later, or watch the video online' - but never actually getting down to the mentally-hard business of paying intense attention, and focusing exclusively on the matter in hand.


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