Terry Hadaway is Research Director at BenStroup.com. He is a friend and one of the most talented and brilliant people I know. I’m most impressed with his fusion of education and technology. In this guest post, Terry challenges the function of the lecture, the default teaching method and asks leaders to reconsider their approach if they expect to engage people in the process of learning. Terry can be reached at terry[at]benstroup[dot]com.
The mere mention of the word sends chills up the backs of most adults.
When surveyed, only a small percentage of adults actually prefer lecture to a colonoscopy, root canal, or day-long company meeting. (Actually, I just made that up for effect.) In reality, it is pretty well agreed that most adults don’t like lecture.
So, why do so many teachers of adults resort to lecture? It could be that the thought of the alternative scares them. You see, there aren’t a lot of options to the lecture model. Either one person talks all the time or everyone gets the chance to talk. It’s either a lecture or a discussion… or is it?
At this point I’d like to introduce a really cool new word that would sound very Seth Godin-ish. It would be a creative combination of lecture and discussion like “lec-ussion” or the other way around—discuss-ture. Neither of those terms have the stickability of modern day brilliance. In fact, those terms sound a bit more like something that would require medical intervention.
However, I do believe there is a way to blend content delivery with engaging discussion in a way that recognizes the expertise of every adult in the room, yet minimizes the threat of rabbit-chasing and fantasy football trash-talking. Research shows that the more interactive the environment, the more real learning takes place. In other words, the amount of learning taking place among adults is directly proportional to the number of people engaged in discussing the topic. If you’re the only one talking, you’re the only one with the potential for learning.
The process utilizes a combination of “content hammers” and “discussion rakes.” The hammers break up the surface and the rakes take over from there. For instance, let’s assume you wanted to teach someone how to make great coffee. First you would present relevant information about freshness of the roast, quality and temperature of the water, and choice of brew methods. You then would ask a simple question—Based on what you heard, how would you rate your current coffee brewing process? Let the conversation begin.
The conversation will be fueled by the dissonance between the information presented and the previous experiences of those in the room. This will open the door for an interactive experience in which participants will be given the opportunity to actually participate in brewing the perfect cup of coffee. The experience will conclude with a tasting experience. By involving people academically and experientially, the learning experience is more effective.
Scary? Maybe. But, we know how adults don’t learn. Why not try something that will actually work?
Ben Stroup is a content activist in a post-paragraph world. He is chief broker of opportunity at Ben Stroup Enterprises. Connect with Ben via email, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe via email to learn how to use content to move people to action.