If only we could unplug the internet so those damn kids would pay attention to our damn lectures!
I mean, if they weren't so damn distracted with learning on that damn Internet, they would learn more from me!
Okay, I'm being a little over-the-top, but then so was this university professor when he says he can't figure out how to get his students off the Internet during his lectures.
Teachers don't need to survey their students for feedback on their lessons - students' behaviour in and of itself should be feedback enough. Sleeping, off-topic socializing, snoring, doodling, paper airplanes and self-mutilation are valuable forms of feedback that should tell teachers that something is awry.
Misbehevavior is the number one symptom of a boring and unengaging curriculum. If students feel less captivated and more like captives during school, then they are going to vote with their feet - and if they can't actually leave physically, then we shouldn't be surprised when they remain only in body.
But for the most part, we don't really want to hear it. Too often we ask for feedback, when we are really asking for praise.
When a kid misbehaves, for the most part, we don't look at ourselves - or our lessons - or our curriculum. Instead we blame the kids. They need more self-control.
Have you ever been to a teacher's conference? Ever sat in a room full of teachers during a lecture?
You might be smirking right now, because you know where I'm going with this. Try to lecture a room full of teachers and you'll see what I mean. The hypocricy is pungent.
Scott Berkun might be on to something when he explains that the technology is not the problem:
First, there is a strong academic argument that lectures are an inappropriate teaching method much of the time – it’s just that it’s the only method many professors know or are willing to try... Second, most people who lecture are awful – the bar is low – and in the case of professors, they are lecturing to people who are captives.
Berkun's comments are ironically cannabolistic - he makes a living as a public speaker.
This all got me thinking about how Seth Godin defines spam:
How much of a teacher's staff meeting agenda is considered spam by the teacher? How much of a teacher's lesson and lecture is considered to be spam by the students? How much of the content that plows its way over the public address speakers is considered spam?Spam is unanticipated, impersonal, irrelevant junk I don't want to get.
Seth writes about the inefficiencies of the all-call:
Back when companies had offices, there was a button on the phone labeled "all call". It allowed you to page every speaker in the entire building at once.
"Tom P., you have a package at the front desk!"
It was a lot easier to hit all call than to just track down Tom. After a while, this group interruption gets tiresome because it's so wasteful. You interrupt 100 people to reach one, or you get ten offers of help (or someone to buy your hockey tickets) when one was all you needed.The days of standardized swaths of lecturing where whole chunks of information is simply disseminated among the masses has come and gone. The kids are telling us there is something wrong with school - we know there are better ways.
The first step is to stop blaming them and start listening to them.