Our new blogger is Leonardo Medina Santa Cruz from Mexico. He takes the place of Kristina Simonaityte. In his first blog Leonardo tries to find out why the lectures he is attending are so boring.
Be honest, I bet most of you have had a similar experience during lectures. Why do you think that is? I mean, we enrolled in the course, so we care for the subject from the start, right? Why do many of our professors seem boring? Are they plain bad pedagogues? Or better yet, what makes good teachers, good?
Dr. Ken Bain, president of the Best Teachers Institute, answers this question in his book What the Best College Teachers Do. Short answer: 'It’s not what they do, but what they understand'. Bain studied dozens of the best teachers in U.S. to determine their common qualities. He found that they all change the way students think, act and feel. Yeah, I know, this is easier said than done. Let’s discuss some of this qualities.
Students bring their self-formed intuitive framework into the classroom, which limits their learning process to what they think they already know. Unexpected experiences force students to create new mental models. Remember, good teachers make the familiar seem strange, and the strange seem familiar.
Great teachers adjust their strategy to the diversity of learning styles. Some students learning in a certain way, doesn’t mean all do. Embrace the 'Who gives a damn?' challenge. Teachers should explain their subject assuming a student just asked them this question. So, whenever you feel one is not complying, just ask: 'Sir, who gives a damn?' Maybe rephrase that a little.
Some of you will like this one. Extrinsic rewards undermine our original motivation and curiosity. Too much attention on grades creates “bulimic learners”, who forget the material right after the exam. Finally: no questions means nobody learned anything!
To be clear, just because teachers have enormous potential to boost the learning process, doesn’t mean that they solely own this responsibility. Students can also reshape themselves to get the most out of their education, but let’s leave that for another time.