I stumbled upon a real gem this week, thanks to the Presentation Zen master himself, Garr Reynolds. The gem is a recorded lecture given by Harvard physicist, Eric Mazur, titled “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer.” He describes the trials and tribulations that he went through while trying to be come the best lecturer, and teacher, that he could be. This is a man who truly cares about student learning. In my opinion, he absolutely crushes this one out of ball park and deep into McCovey Cove.
(Click here to cheat, and access the abridged version.)
Garry Reynolds did a great job of breaking it down, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to direct you over to his post for that. Instead, I thought I’d share the following:
Top 10 Moments from “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer”
10. All along, there were signs that something was wrong.
Referring to various forms of feedback that he received from students throughout the semester about his teaching performance.
9. How do you come up with plausible wrong answers?!
Referring to the all-too-common process of developing a multiple choice test.
8. If I have the book, and they have the book, what am I going to do in class?!
Referring to early in his teaching career, as he was developing his teaching methods.
7. Shift focus from teaching, to helping students learn.
Identifying one of the most important messages from his “confessions” lecture.
6. The plural of anecdotes is not data.
Pointing out the fact that educators tend to throw out the scientific method when it comes to assessing their performance and teaching methods.
5. You don’t benefit from watching someone else solve a problem. YOU have to do it.
This one is self-explanatory.
4. Teaching is more than just the transfer of information. Assimilating information is the hard part of learning, but we put all of our efforts [as teachers] into the easy part, which is the transfer of information.
3. To quote Socrates, 2000yrs ago- we should teach by questioning, not by telling.
That ancient Greek dude was smart!
2. The better you know something, the more difficult it becomes to teach.
This one really hits home for me, because I talk about “the curse of knowledge” in all of my workshops. It’s so true, especially in health sciences!
1. The lecture method is a process whereby the lectures notes of the instructor get transferred to the notebooks of the students… without passing through the brains of either!
Are traditional indicators of success, end of semester evaluations and standardized test results accurate, or misleading? I’ll give you one guess as to what his feeling on that matter is (and I agree completely).
In the most basic form, his current teaching method consists of two parts. (1) Students are assigned pre-class reading. (2) Class time is used to delve deeper into the areas that are difficult.
He goes on to say that it’s impossible to sleep in his class because every 2 minutes a classmate is talking to you, and there is a continuous information flow happening between everyone in the room! Sounds pretty great to me, and this also gives me flashbacks to the physics class I took in college, which was NOTHING like that.
And finally, here is a great example his teaching style in action:
What do you think? Is he completely out in left field, or is he so right that it’s scary?!