New aged learning, the death of a master

Obi wan says “strike me down and I’ll become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”  I might be playing around with the context and the full delivery of the line, but maybe that is what we need. We need to be struck down, metaphorically, to allow our pupils to grow and flourish.

The crux of every reason why we should like lecture revolves around the lecturer themselves. The person has all this knowledge, wisdom, and insight into the topic at hand. Because of these things, they know how to transmit that knowledge to eager learners in a way that makes sense. I do believe there are times when lecturing is appropriate. However,  as we strive to change the way we teach, we have to let go or minimize the need to lecture. I don’t think that is easy to do as it is say. I can feel the offense that Douglas Thomas took when his class largely phased him out of lecturing. He spent years studying this stuff, and now they should listen to his wisdom on it. Or another scenario being, hey everyone I have this really great lesson. Oh never mind, y’all want to about your experiences in the game. I can also sense the uncertainty he may have in letting go of control of the classroom. It seemed that he had failed since nobody wanted to receive his thoughts in lecture. Lo and behold it worked.

I think letting go of that control and experiencing some uncertainty are the biggest challenges in trying to become a more student centered teacher. Not every case will be as instantly successful as this one. Thomas had a unique mechanism to work with by using Star Wars Galaxies. I do worry that instructors would have to go through multiple iterations of a class before they are able to find something that works. In this age of accountability, that may not be a luxury instructors are afforded. I don’t believe it needs to as dramatic as Thomas’ class, where he was nearly phased out of his own classroom, but it needs to be better than a straight lecture. Borrowing an idea from Parker Palmer, I think we need to hold the tension between the two to make it work. Maybe death of a master was a bit dramatic, but it worked well for the video.

The Last Gedi

The timing of everything is too perfect to not include this short bootlegged video. Basically sums up blogging for me. Maybe I will also change like Luke did in the movie.  Anyway, the real thought provoking content begins below. Please push play on the video though, it might give you a good chuckle.


If you are curious as to what Kuh’s high-impact practices are, please follow this link. I like the ideas presented. It seems like it would make for an undergraduate experience that would actually feel like you did something, rather than simply getting a degree to check a box on applications. The one idea I want to focus on is collaborative assignments/projects. The class I TA for, ecological agriculture, could benefit greatly if we practiced that more. There are many writing prompts to be completed, but everyone does them on their own. Then when we have class discussions about them, it is the few strong voices in the room that continue to dominate discussions. By having a collaborative writing environment, it could be possible to get more people to participate in classroom discussions since they have had to express their ideas to at least one other person.

Likewise, the tool seems like a good way to get ideas flowing for the papers that are assigned to the class. We read a lot of science literature in the class, and not everyone is familiar with those types of articles. It could be helpful in creating a better understanding. While it isn’t anonymous, it might be easier to ask questions when one isn’t in front of the class. Maybe that provides an opportunity for a student to answer a question rather than wait for the instructor.  I know it is about building the network and sharing ideas and experiences, but I also see it as a way off accountability for actually doing the readings that doesn’t involve the instructor threatening to take off points for not doing an assignment. I see myself incorporating this into the class and it seems to be a worthwhile use of technology.

Test Post

This is only a test post to check for proper syndication.  If you were expecting a real post, this is the best I have to offer.