Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I do believe that Power Point has ruined the teaching experience.  I speak from experience, vast experience, sitting in a classroom, watching the teacher read from the board.... leaving me bored in my chair.

I don't understand it.  Long, newsy, two and three sentence points, strung together in a wall of text alleviated only by the italicized titles, adorned the screen in the Rubel Auditorium this morning, just as they had the two weeks before.  I read them, digested them, then settled back in my chair so that the instructor could read them aloud.

It would be too much to assume, I imagine, that the room full of adult learners were actually capable of reading them to themselves.  The teacher felt the need to read them to us.  His voice is loud and clear and full of energy.  He reads well.... I have lots and lots of examples to back up my claim.

He's read paragraphs from the novel we're studying, long, dense, already read by the audience, chapters we had devoured on our own but which were being brought back to life on Monday morning.  He didn't stop to point out the more interesting sentences.  His voice rose and dropped as we were drawn into the story... at least, that was his intent, I suppose.  All I could do was seethe.

It's insulting to the students in the room.  We are not there because our parents are paying our tuition. We are adults in an adults-only program.  We have chosen to be in the room.  We have other options, and we selected this one.  Other teachers in the program have marveled at the wonderfulness of standing in front of a group of students who have not only read the material, but are able to sit quietly without texting or answering email or surfing the interwebs. We are, in general, an attentive bunch.

But when the information is presented in type before our eyes, it is hard to remain interested in the repetitious recitation of the words.  How I wish he would take off from the starting points he's written and let his mind wander to further edges of analysis.  How I wish he would expand upon the facts he's presenting.  Those facts are clear as bells, right there in bold type in front of my eyes.  They need amplification, explanation, context and discussion.  They do not require reading aloud.

There are other areas of classroom management in which he is failing, as well.  It's a big room and some of the students have small voices; a portable microphone is provided to remedy the inevitable what did she say querying.  Unfortunately, the class has its fair share of those who know that what they have to say is of such importance that it cannot wait to be shared - with or without the mic. Not only does he seem incapable of staunching the bloviations, he adds insult to injury by not sharing the voice amplification system.  I suppose I should be grateful that my ears were spared the nonsense being spouted - 21st century personal stories have no place in an analysis of Victorian ghost stories.  Still, it's frustrating to watch a conversation in which you cannot participate.

I've spoken to the program leader, who is powerless.  He's an important professor; she can't presume to give him pedagogical tips.

Why do I continue to attend?  I'm enjoying the works we are reading (Christmas CarolThe Woman in White) and I enjoy the company of my fellow students. Today, while he was reading his words aloud to the captive audience, I pretended to follow along as I read on further in the text.  I don't want to be rude.  I just don't want to waste my time.

Sigh.  Not a big problem, but one I needed to get off my chest.  Thanks for listening, denizens.

6 comments:

  1. Totally agree. This is why I rarely use PPT in my classroom. I only use it to show illustrations and photos that my class needs to discuss (I teach history of advertising at a local college). Otherwise, if you want the information, you attend the lectures and discussions. Reading your PPTs is lazy pedagogy -- if I want my students involved with the material, I have to be involved with it as well, and that doesn't mean reading a PPT deck that I created 3 years ago.

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    1. The pictures are wonderful, but I agree - it's lazy pedagogy. He seems to have so much more to say, but insists on reading the written words aloud. GRRRR...........
      a/b

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  2. You are so right--powerpoint is annoying. I refused to use it when I was teaching. Now it annoys me every time I see someone using it, and using it badly, which most do. Wasting time is a big sin in my book.

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    1. That's what bothers me most of all.. the waste of my time, and his. I know he has more to say.....
      a/b

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  3. I absolutely hate PowerPoint. I had to give a presentation about a month ago at work and my director asked me where my PowerPoint presentation was. Told him that I felt like people rely too heavily on PowerPoint and end up reading their presentation. I was able to give my presentation without slides and it was quite refreshing. I could just chat and show demo's of what I was talking about. I may do this going forward.

    If you want to read a lot about how PowerPoint is ruining communication, check out Edward Tufte. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html

    Many of the people in my office have taken his course and they say it's one of the best courses they have ever taken.

    Hope you are having a great day.


    Megan xxx

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    1. I'm passing the link on to the director of the program. Perhaps she can subtly share it. As always, Megan, you steer me in the right direction!
      a/b

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