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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Spare Me the Lecture!

This recent New York Times Op Ed piece made me a bit uncomfortable. As someone who has always worked at a school with a diverse student body, and also as someone who did a fair bit of lecturing early in my teaching career, I’d never considered that lecturing might be inequitable.

Educational research conducted in the past 20 years has taught us much about how students learn, and as a result the excuses for ineffective teaching have grown correspondingly thinner. However, learning about the probable harm that lecture-style teaching may be doing to a large segment of students, particularly in contrast to the benefits of an active-learning style of teaching, redoubles my resolve to see that those harms are minimized at the school I lead now.

Perhaps Darrow’s new tagline should be, “where boring, ineffective, and inequitable teaching goes to die.” That’s probably not a good idea, but it does encapsulate our passion for engaging students in an active pursuit of their own education, as opposed to having it dictated to them.

Do you think this approach is fair? How do you feel about the lecture-style of teaching? Do you recall any lectures that were memorable, either for their impact or sheer boredom? Please share in the comments section or email me at holzapfels@darrowschool.org.

Questions and Wonder

Students have registered, classes are in session, sports have begun, and the Mountainside is humming once again. Entering my 20th year in education, I find that the routines have become quite familiar. And yet somehow I find myself feeling a bit nervous. There’s something about the beginning of a new school year that still pushes me and makes me a bit uncomfortable. So many questions that need answers and so many things to wonder about, even though the school is the same, the job is the same, and the people are pretty much the same.

I like this feeling; perhaps it’s part of why I do this work. My memory tells me that this is how I felt at the start of the new year in elementary school, high school, college, and so on. I know that the new students at Darrow probably have lots of questions and wonder swirling in their heads, too.

I want to be sure to capture and encourage the best of those feelings and channel them into learning. Game on!