Blog 037 Lectures

By Mana Williams  15 Minutes

How confident are you that you could actively ask a question in a lecture of three hundred? I’m sure you could. But could you do it every day? How many times have you done it in the past? Can you count that number on two hands? Maybe one? It’s never easy asking a question at a lecture of three hundred, especially if the question isn’t a smart one. Lecturers can encourage questions at the start of a course and say that no question are silly ones. But the reality is, you do need to have a certain kind of confidence to be able to raise to that level and interrupt an auditorium full of grumpy humans. Today’s talk looks at the negative reinforcement that having lectures of this size can be and the relationship that should exist between a lecturer and a student. In the hopes that someone stuck out, there might be able to conjure up that level of confidence or get their questions answered in an alternative way.

What is a lecture?

The word lecture has two different definitions that both reflect a one-sided relationship. The defined answer is an educational talk to an audience, usually students. The second defined answer is a long serious speech, especially one to scold somebody. The power in a lecture is definitely one sided, which makes it really difficult to communicate on the same level and understand the message. The assumption made is that a lecturer knows more than the student. This is normally true but the reasoning behind why this methodology is used is to communicate as to suggest that if the message was delivered to an alien or somebody with no knowledge then the lesson needs to be easily consumed. But this takes away from the student their control of the situation. A lecture of three hundred is not a conversation, it’s a talking to. A place where a lesson could be taught to a multitude of people without taking into account the needs of the individual. Making it really hard for an individual to have one on ones. If a person wanted a questioned answered mid-lecture then the questions themselves would be clarified on an open source so that everyone would get their question answered.

So what’s changed?

We no longer live in a learning environment that big questions could only be asked in front of everyone. Unfortunately, some lecturers won’t answer too many questions after the lecture as they have lives and other classes to teach, so this is not a hugely valuable way of squeezing everything out of the lemon. We now have online forums to ask questions, using our University communications web pages. It seems easy but this is a great place to ask stupid questions. Online forums are tomorrow’s auditoriums. They still share the same lesson but the added role of anonymity is something of a breath of fresh air.

So is a lecture important?

We all have those horrible memories of trudging our daily slog to our 8:00 am first class, whether in school, course or to university. Those dreadful half-asleep brain marathons drawing on the theater desks. Watching the motivation at the start of a class slowly dwindle until it turns into a woeful can’t be bothered-ness. They say it is for our learning, they say it is to engage us in an appropriate way so that we are able to take in the lessons easier. They say it is good for us. So they say... Some cheeky lecturers even set lecture journals as if to suggest that we are to be forced to attend their wee chats and humorous one-liners that, they say, are extremely important for us to know if we are going to learn something significant that can definitely not be taught online. So they say…

What if you don’t have the internet?

Imagine if you didn’t have to pay for expensive levy fees for University and instead paid a company to hook your farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with the internet. It’s a real travesty why we even have to attend a gigantic facility when libraries are free. When the books we require can easily be handed to us using a little aunty named google. (It’s not uncle google, males have never known more than females). When administrators and Dean’s can be met with an email and interviewed with FaceTime or Skype media. A time where you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on the operational costs of big heavy, ugly buildings and be treated like a know-nothing alien.

The point I’m trying to get across.

I know it sounds like a massive yarn just to get out of going to lectures, because it is. But for a second consider how important spending thousands of dollars operating hundreds of gigantic theaters all across the world every weekday costs. How much electrical energy would we be able to save if we had windows that brought in natural light? How many beautiful morning walks have we missed out on sitting in a theater listening to a middle-aged man yak on about the font style of his presentation? How much banter with loved ones have we missed out on because we are living in a city our family is not in? We deprive our livelihood to be spoken down to on a shitty Tuesday morning. I mean it makes sense to spend thousands of dollars to do that right? Yeah, of course, it does bro you’ve got it. Imagine how many awesome memories we would have with our loved one’s if the image of going to a huge University changed and we were able to gain the knowledge we needed without even shifting away from our hometown or lived with our parents. I for one miss my parents like crazy! So what does sitting in a crowd full of three hundred other grumpy morning slugs have to offer me that would warrant the biggest priority in my entire life, the love of family, to be second best.

Whatever question you have, it should be answerable without forcing yourself into a jam packed brick walled building on a miserable wet/windy morning. We shouldn’t have to, the dichotomy of going to lectures versus using online media doesn’t actually add up in a 2017 climate.

This is today’s chat. I’m really enjoying these rants about things that shouldn’t be the same way as they used to be a hundred years ago. Be sure to check in each day at 11:00 am NZT. And as always!

Thanks for checking in…

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