Active Learning Is Not Our Enemy: A Response to Molly Worthen

26 Oct

We’ll be referencing – and linking to – this response to Molly Worthen’s 18 October NYTimes OpEd piece, “Lecture Me.  Really.” as a components of our weekly blog post, due for publication today. We’ve selected this as the single response to share for its breadth and specificity in developing a powerful, teacherly, scholarly response.  More in the 26 October posting to follow shortly.

A Lifetime's Training

If the social media response I have observed is any indication, then it is fair to say that Professor Molly Worthen’s Op-Ed in Sunday’s New York Times (“Lecture Me. Really.”) has been a bit polarizing among college instructors.  In brief, Worthen valorizes the lecture as the engine for student learning in humanities courses (particularly those at the introductory level) at the expense of what she terms “[t]oday’s vogue for active learning.”  Some readers have loved it and see in it a reflection of their own practices, while others–to put it mildly–feel less amenable to it and see in it a regretful look backward at the pedagogical days of yore.  As both a fellow humanist and someone who is ensconced in the scholarship of teaching and learning on a daily basis, I too had a visceral reaction to the piece, but I want to try and remain as objective…

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