Computers in school [college a waste?]
Richard A. O'Keefe
ok at atlas.otago.ac.nz
Thu Aug 9 01:22:42 UTC 2001
"Joshua 'Schwa' Gargus" <schwa at cc.gatech.edu> wrote:
poorly-taught classes, I would occasionally get so frustrated with my
professor that I would sit in the front row, conspicuously reading my
textbook rather than wasting my attention on the lecture itself. On
those occasions, I do not believe that the professor was ever
conscious enough of the classroom situation to notice my small
statement on the quality of their lecture.
I've seen similar things. I've been such a student, and I've been such
a lecturer (but I'm a _much_ better lecturer now). Let me tell you, the
lecturer was certainly aware of you, but too embarrassed/scared to do
anything about it, or else very pleased to see someone care enough about
the subject to actually read the textbook.
An important problem is that tertiary-level lecturers are not trained
for the job, and such training as is available is useless or worse.
I've taken an education paper. It was strong on theory (at a rather
vague sort of level) and ideology (there is no such thing as truth, and
if you Mr Computer Scientist think anything you teach is true you are
hopelessly naive and probably on a power trip) but rather weak on
practical things like "how do you set an examination paper so that
students will understand your questions" and "how do you divide an
enormous body of knowledge into bite-sized pieces" and "OK, so there
are dozens of different learning styles BUT you have a class of 160
students and only 2 contact hours per week so what to you actually DO?"
Other people I know who've done education papers in a variety of countries
report similar experiences.
The plain fact of the matter is that even if they are paying for it,
tertiary students are responsible for their own education. If the
classes are not satisfactory, then do something about it.
SOME lecturers may be arrogant. SOME lecturers may be extremely
defensive. EVERY lecturer will be defensive if approached in an
abusive or hostile way. But MOST lecturers are keen to improve (if
you don't credit them with good will, credit them with wanting
tenure/promotion, so wanting to have a good record). If any student
should approach me with a suggestion along the lines of "you have a
really important subject, but I'm having difficulty with the classes,
and I think it would help me if xyz", then I'd have a go at xyz.
In fact, the lecture I gave this morning was based on just such an
approach by a student 3 years ago.
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