Brookfield brings up five different reasons that lectures are useful in the classroom. They include lecturing to establish the broad outline of a body of material, to explain using examples different concepts or ideas that learners might find difficulty understanding, introducing alternative perspectives or interpretations, for modelling intellectual attitudes and behaviours that we want our students to follow, and lastly, of course, to encourage our students interest in a particular topic. This is all great, but these aren't the only important aspects of lecturing in the classroom. It is HOW one lectures that really matters.
Beginning on page 73, Brookfield discusses characteristics that make lectures helpful to students. Including a variety of teaching and communication approaches including using silence (one of my favorites!!), changing your location around the classroom (ditch the podium, please), and breaking lectures down into much more digestible portions (of 10 - 15 minutes) that each deal with a specific piece of information, are some ideas mentioned to help keep lectures manageable for your students.
A few more aspects to successful lecturing that Brookfield mentions are found on pages 80 and 81. By beginning a talk (or lecture) with a question, students will start listening for the answer right from the start, and will also begin to recall information to see if they already know the answer. But don't stop there with your questions! Finish off your lecture with unanswered questions still lingering in the air, those that were raised from the new knowledge students received and that might not even be answerable with the knowledge that students have to this point. Keep them guessing and thinking, partly by introducing alternative perspectives that they might not have thought of before.
I remember one instructor in my past made us support an opposite view from our own beliefs in discussions, and it was very mind-opening to have to factually and emotionally support an opposite point of view with the same passion as our "true" belief. It made for some very interesting discussions following his lectures.
Lectures need not be boring or stifling like those of the past! Short, interactive, and truly informational talks that serve a direct purpose can have a great impact and open the doors for further discussion and thought.
Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (3rd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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