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Volume 12, Number 6
November/December 1996

What's So Bad About the Lecture?

Teachers say there's a place for lecturing—especially the interactive kind—but reformers don't always agree

 

The lecture has been getting an increasingly bad name over the past decade. John Goodlad's 1984 book, A Place Called School, accelerated the vilification of the lecture, says Robert Hampel of the University of Delaware. Goodlad's book reported that teachers talked—and students listened—70 percent of class time.

"Everyone's answer," says Hampel, "was to reduce the time of teacher-talk, but almost nobody's answer was organized and structured teacher-talk." This tendency of some reformers to throw the baby out with the bath water is a common complaint among teachers.

In fact, teachers say they are lecturing less than ever. Tom Taylor, who teaches history and economics in Terre Haute, IN, says, "I don't know anybody who simply lectures anymore. But I work with people in the education reform business. They think everybody lectures."

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.

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For Further Information

For Further Information

Joe Bergin, Furness High School, Third and Mifflin Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148.

Eleanor Duckworth, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 226 Longfellow Hall, Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Claryce Evans, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 207 Longfellow Hall, Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Kurt Fischer, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 703 Larsen Hall, Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education. For further information about Dr. Gardner's work, request the Informational Brochure from Harvard Project Zero, 321 Longfellow Hall, Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138.

J. I. Goodlad. A Place Called School: Promise for the Future. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984.

Robert L. Hampel, Associate Professor, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.

Frauke Palmer, Worthington Kilbourne High School, 1499 Hard Road, Columbus, OH 43235..

Tom Taylor, North High School, 3434 Maple Avenue, Terre Haute, IN 47803.

Bill Tomasco, Furness High School, Third and Mifflin Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148.