“We don’t all agree that the lecture is doomed. A number of us have found professors who have really inspired us with their lectures. They convey their subject with energy, and engage us as people. One gathers students on stage to act out what he is teaching. Another, a climatologist, asks us to send him photos of the day’s weather. Professors who ask us questions, make jokes, bring in their dogs — do anything to humanize themselves — make us feel less like just a body in the room.
We can tell you those professors are too few and far between. Websites like RateMyProfessor have become an indispensable resource for finding them. Professors might not like being reduced to a mere number, but, hey, neither do we.
We will admit that the problem is not that the lecture is inherently a horrendous format. We’ve had bad small discussion-based classes where no one has done the required reading. We’ve sat through awkward silences when no one wants to add to the discussion.
But for us, the lecture seems too much the default option for educating a lot of us at the cheapest price.
Instead of debating the lecture, instead of imagining what students are thinking, get to know us. Find out what college is like for us now, rather than what it was like for you years ago. Learn that we respond to your lecture very individually, and that we pick our lectures often for the individuality of the professor rather than the subject.”
—the undersigned students of Catherine Prendergast’s writing course, “A Lecture from the Lectured”