IntroductionThe lecture method is one of the most traditional methods of teaching. Most teachers use this method, as there is only emphasis on completion of portions and not delivery of quality. Nor is there any attempt to become creative at any stage. Even when students start bunking classes, the teachers do not understand their folly till it becomes very late and the damage has already been done.
Be that as it may, the lecture method has several limitations in today's context. The limitations have to be understood in the changing context of Information Technology being a game-changer. The new realities make it imperative that the teacher uses the lecture method sparingly and uses the modern tools of teaching and learning like never before.Hence, we need to focus on a) Ever decreasing attention spans of students b) Need for the practical connect c) Need for multi-dimensional learning d) Advent of most advanced internet facilities and e) Creativity and Innovation are essential imperatives for value-addition.
Ever decreasing attention span of studentsThis is an extremely vital issue that literally begs attention of all teachers, whether they teach in a school or a college. Since the students have ever-increasing peer pressure, they tend to discuss with them too many things and also tend to learn from each other. The teacher can be a good catalyst for learning, only if he or she understands this changed reality. For example, if a history teacher were to teach about temple architecture under the Chola dynasty in Tamil Nadu, to ninth standard students, he would do well to prepare a power-point presentation highlighting the key aspects of the particular temple architecture and include as many visuals as possible. He or she should mail this to all students in advance and then request them to come prepared. If the students perceive and accept the teacher as caring for their interest and the teacher also demonstrates such interest, the rest will fall in place. The teacher will be able to ensure that the students have already seen the ppt presentation at home. The most successful teacher will be the one who wins the hearts of the students. He or she is the really pro-active teacher who really walks the talk. This is exactly what is required.
Need for the practical contextTake the above example. History is one of the best subjects for anyone so seriously inclined to take the IAS examination and become a civil servant. The teacher will do well to mention this vital information to the ninth standard student; furthermore, to bring in a good aspect of the practical connect, even if there is a sixty-minute guest lecture from an IAS officer who had chosen history as one of the options, the teacher would have totally ensured the practical connect. The seeds of motivation in the minds of some serious students have already been sown; this will become a passion and there might as well be an aspiring civil servant in the class.
Today, the need for the practical connection is even more pronounced than ever before. A teacher who is able to demonstrate the good aspects of a smartphone is actually doing a fabulous service to society. The students are bound to appreciate such inputs. With the advent of online classes, this input is all the more needed, even in rural areas. When we need to go along with the students in today's changed context, we need to instill values and also enable each student to become smart, given the present tide that is sweeping the entire world. Hence, while a little of the lecture method can be still used, the teacher needs to go far beyond his or her traditional role.
Need for multi-dimensional learningThis follows from the second point. Today, the student needs to know everything. However, the maturity level of the student is extremely important. The ninth standard is the ideal stage of a student's life to introduce and sustain multi-dimensional learning. For example, at this stage, the student really needs to know the fundamentals of economics, even if he or she is interested only in science. The least that the teacher can do, even if the teacher is one who teaches English, is to make the students understand the basics of banking transactions. The student needs to know how deposits are mobilized; what is a savings account, what is a current account and fixed deposits and so on. To introduce a connection to reality, the teacher can possibly introduce the context of tourist taxis. Someone makes an investment after carefully understanding the potential market by closely observing it. For instance, at a hill station like Munnar, the various car operators who operate from Coimbatore or Pollachi offer tourist packages by car and stay in some good standard hotel. The driver and the car are available on call. Hence the concept of demand can also be explained. The third aspect is the supply. Since there are too many registered operators, the tour operators cannot take the tourists for a ride, and the supply is always equal or a little more than the demand. The economy improves when the money actually changes hands and the service is complete.
From among the students, there would be someone who had actually gone to Munnar on such a trip. It is extremely easy for the entire class to understand the basics of investment, buyer and seller, and demand and supply if the student is able to share his experience. Munnar is just one example. The students can also learn from the nearest taxi operator once the concept becomes clear. This is exactly what is called multi-dimensional learning and it should be understood that the lecture is totally inadequate to understand the basics of several concepts in detail.
Advent of the most advanced internet facilitiesThis is a universal reality. In less than sixty months from now, when the IT infrastructure improves to dizzying heights, the students of schools and colleges can easily learn everything from Google. For example, there are hundreds of power-point presentations on various careers on YouTube, in English, and in almost every Indian language. So, the lecture needs to be just a guide and not the main input. The internet can be extremely useful in terms of creating and sustaining the interest of any student. For example, in prestigious colleges like the world-famous Loyola College Chennai, which is well known for its high standards of teaching in Economics, the teachers merely give an introduction and then give the project to the students. For example, one is told that to explain the concept of a mixed economy, for example, the teacher merely gives the basic outline and asks the students to prepare in groups, various PowerPoint presentations on the actual experiments and results in India, complete with graphs and illustrations and changes in Government policy, particularly after 1991, the year of introduction of economic reforms.
We just do not have a choice now. The key is to have a very comprehensive approach to teaching and learning, through the use of the most advanced information technology, by totally embracing it like never before.
Creativity and Innovation are essential imperatives for value-additionEach of the above examples discussed above are not merely quoted for discussion. They are examples of creativity and innovation. Nothing works without these two vital variables, in education at any level.
Bench-marking against the best-in-class practices can be very useful. One of the best initiatives in this regard can be sharing of experiences between teachers, and the CBSE is already doing this in one way or the other. The various State Boards also need to do something similar to improve learning at every level. Furthermore, documentation of learning during implementation, with complete details of whatever happened, can be very useful to drastically improve learning standards. For example, let us assume that the particular school illustrates the basics of economics with the example of tourist operators, in the context of Munnar. While this is the first step, let us assume that the students are taken on an excursion to Munnar. If four students are secretly mandated to take notes on punctuality, quality of services provided, the experiences of various students, and so on and then everyone is made to discuss all the experiences in the classroom, the students would have learned many a lesson in organizing, communication, and coordination.
This is the comprehensive learning aspect. This is just one example. Every teacher should be made to think out-of-the-box and drastically improve all standards of reaching at all levels.
ConclusionWe are all living in different circumstances. Schools and colleges are ideal nurseries for effective learning. While lectures can be useful to some extent, taking teaching to new heights needs to follow certain steps discussed above. One can always learn from the new experiences after they take some shape in the real world at any point in time.
A nice article from the author. We like the method of teaching of some and some we may not like. What makes the difference? If we know this we can make our lecture interesting.
The best value addition to our lecture would be by giving some good examples while delivering the lecture. Some examples given by Professors will be remembered very well for long and that will make us get interested in the subject. But selecting the examples which will convey the message straight can help the students grasp the example and understand how it is related to the subject.
The lecture should be made keeping the level of the students in mind but not as a tool to showcase your knowledge. Your ultimate aim should be that the student will understand what you conveyed.
Showing models related to the lecture and asking some questions during the lecture will also add value to your lecture. These days many software solutions are developed that are useful for making the lecture interesting. Using these advance features in your lecture will add value to your lecture.