The Lecture Works, and It Always Has


Over at First Things I argue that the lecture is still the best way to educate a large group of learners.

The Atlantic ran an interview with David Thornburg, entitled “Lectures Didn’t Work in 1350­—and They Still Don’t Work Today.” It’s full of the typical technology-will-save-education balderdash. I’ll skip any comments on that topic.

Let’s talk about this assertion that lectures don’t work. The interviewer asks why we keep using this lecture-based model that doesn’t suit every student’s needs. Thornburg answers:

“It’s a fascinating question. There’s a painting of a classroom by Laurentius de Voltolina from 1350 that shows it’s not working. Students are talking to each other or falling asleep while the teacher drones on. Why has this perpetuated? I don’t know.”

I can tell you why. It’s perpetuated because it works.

You can read the rest here.

2 thoughts on “The Lecture Works, and It Always Has

  1. When a lecture really works is ONLY when there are parallel (tho’ not simultaneous), small discussion groups, for example, the British ideal for the Tutorial. [As someone who spent some time in that system, I can tell you that it doesn’t always work, but the ideal is great.]

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