Teaching as acting

Bring Laptops to the class has been controversial since laptops became public affordable. In engineering classes, it becomes common that laptops are needed to help the students to solve problems. Laptops come a part of human’s “extended” brain, especially in the computer-aided design field. Professors start teaching students computer tricks and think these tricks are essential for future engineers. There are other voices believing that laptops in class will do worse than better. They draw the students’ attention away from the lectures. One example from Darren Rosenblum (Leave Your Laptops at the Door to My Classroom) shows that forbidding laptops in class improved the students’ engagement.

With new technologies, people tend to seek more efficient ways of doing things. Research papers follow a certain structure so that readers can grasp the information quickly. Authors put graphic abstracts at the beginning of papers. We read blogs on our way to the offices or homes. Still, the producing of blogs is always faster than our capacity of reading. It seems the time that we can spend on the internet is almost infinite. That fact makes people panic. It makes some people panic because they want to grab some time and it seems the queue ahead of them is just endless.

But, why should they wait? They can compete and win the time back.

There are certain things in this world cannot be accelerated, because time, itself, is an important property of those things. One most obvious example is music. You do not fast forward a piece of music because it will just destroy the piece.

I don’t see people clicking on their facebook or twitter in a movie theater, because they spent all their attention on watching the movies. I realized that watching movies is just as tiring as reading books. But they still concentrate, for that one and a half hours. A documentary is as informative as a college-level class, and there are a group of people spend time watching it. I foresee that some excellent educators are also good performers. An eye-catching class can be broadcasted as a movie. And the outsiders exist. They are immune to the class. We should acknowledge the existence of those students. Just like each movie has a target group of audiences.

6 thoughts on “Teaching as acting

  1. Jaclyn Drapeau says:

    You make some good points, Qichao. Students should be able to devote and concentrate an hour of their time in a class as they would a movie. And I do agree that educators should make their lessons interesting and accessible to a variety of learning styles. I’ve attended quite a few classes that align with your description of a class as a movie. However, I’m not sure that one lesson could ever appeal to every single person in the room. Inevitably, even if the majority of the class thinks that a lesson was cool, there will be one student who would rather be on the laptop or phone. In fact, these devices could very well have been so distracting that the student didn’t even realize that the lesson was eye-catching to begin with. We should aim to interesting every student, but is it possible? Does technology make it more impossible than it actually is?

    • Qichao Wang says:

      Hi Jaclyn. Thank you for your interest. I agree it’s not possible that we can catch every single student’s attention all the time. Just like the end of my blog said, we should accept the existence of those students. Just like any movie, there will always be someone not liking it. I don’t think it’s the educators’ fault that someone does not listen.

  2. Jyotsana says:

    Excited about your post, it seems like the dots are connecting…teaching and learning should definitely be something that can reach the most number of individuals at one given time.

  3. An eye-catching class can be broadcasted as a movie. I liked this statement of you. As you said, people concentrate on a movie and should do the same in a class. In fact, there is a similarity, we pay for both. Once a professor said, students are the only customers who demand less than what they pay for.

  4. It’s nice to be reminded that you cannot rush through everything if you want to thoroughly enjoy it. I feel as a graduate student, I just want to finish everything quickly and move onto the next thing. I don’t always take the time to concentrate and focus on my work. I really like your comment on how since we can focus on movies, we should be able to focus on lectures. As future professors, we should strive to make our lectures as interesting and engaging as movies!

  5. It is interesting that people spend an hour or more watching a movie but seem to have a hard time doing the same thing in a class. I guess my thoughts would be that I can’t really compete with movies – their high budget lighting, stunts, plots, aesthetics. I’m also not sure I want to be a performer so students will listen to me. Perhaps some teachers are good performers but they probably don’t see themselves as performers. They probably are passionate and knowledgeable about what they teach and it shows in their presentation.

Leave a Reply to Jyotsana Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *